- Jul 16, 2019 at 2:11 pm #3602129
My understanding is that there is a wide range of fabrics out there for rain jackets and they come in a variety of weights. The lighter ones (5-8oz) are usually not as waterproof and can easily get ripped. The heavier ones (14-19oz) are very waterproof and can take the abrasion. The WPB fabric ones can be moderately overwhelmed so that they really do not ‘breath’ and become like the PU ones. The PU and fully waterproof types can breath somewhat through pit zips or other open venting. The Epic ones can breath some but usually fall in the middle for weight (10-14oz) and are be waterproof to a point where they will be overwhelmed. Windshirts can be good at blocking the wind, be breathable and maybe shed off a light rain but should really not be used in situations where there may be heavy rain. Ponchos are great because they can keep you dry and breath well except for when the wind maybe be blowing. Umbrellas will block some of the rain from one direction for part of you and are very breathable
Where I am coming from is that I want something that I know is going to be waterproof. Something that I don’t have to keep apply DWR to. Or washing to clean out the pores. Or have to worry about that it is going to fail. Something also that is not fragile and that I have to worry about every branch that pokes out. And hey, if it happens to be somewhat light, that is great!
Lately I have been using a poncho/tarp with a windshirt underneath if needed which I find to be pretty okay. The poncho/tarp can take the abuse, doubles as a shelter and I know it will be waterproof for the parts it covers. Is there anything else I should be looking at?
I also have an OR Rampart jacket that is the heavy (15.6oz in a XXL) that keeps me dry and has the torso flo system that I like to vent some. Actually I had two but one just started delaminating. Now I am a bit worried and wondered what I should be looking at for future options. A silnylon jacket or a something like a Helly Hansen? This jacket is used when there is going to be a deluge or for around town and work.
Thank you.Jul 16, 2019 at 3:35 pm #3602146
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
You first have to come to the realization that all raingear currently on the market sucks.
I have found that 3L Goretex is the most waterproof over time, though the latest C6 DWR isn’t super durable.
If you want DWR-less, I have the Columbia Featherweight and though I don’t have as many miles in it as a lot of DWR based jackets, it has performed well thus far. It doesn’t breathe great, but it is waterproof and doesn’t wet out.
Your only other real option for DWR-less is the new more Durable Gore Tex Shakedry, like the new Mont-Bell Peak shell.Jul 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm #3602151
Bob ShuffBPL Member
I thought there were plenty of totally waterproof combinations and the failure point on most were the breathability. That’s what I thought failed when a material is wetted out. Correct me if I’m wrong.
As I tried lighter and cheaper jackets they often leaked at the seams. Even the Houdini Alpine. I have goretex 3L that never leaks, but traps the sweat. Maybe it traps the sweat more if wetted out because my DWR needs refreshed, but it’s a matter of degrees. You will definitely get wet from sweat unless it’s the perfect temp and lack of activity to avoid sweat completely.Jul 17, 2019 at 5:39 am #3602244
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
Your topic is also addressed at: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/dwr-wetting-out-and-wpb-breathability-moisture-vapor-transfer-rate/
Mentioned there is the success I’ve had with a Patagonia M10 Jacket (8.5 oz in size XL) and a Specter (lighter). Both are defunct, but Patagonia makes an M10 pullover, without full zip, dubbed an anorak.
Also mentioned there are a number of variables which might explain why the above jackets work very well for me backpacking, but may not work for others. From reading many threads on this subject, I think the devil is in the variables. The Specter was a half zip pullover with a “2.5” laminate, while the M10 appears to have a 3 layer laminate, is supposedly more breathable, and was bought after growing tired of constantly putting the anorak on and taking it off in intermittent but heavy rains in the northern Colorado mountains. It works well in the rain, but when the sun comes out, it gets stuffy and comes off. I had a similar experience on kayak trips with a GTX LL Bean pull over that worked OK, but not as well as the Patagonias.
It seems that even the best WPBs won’t work for everyone, but for those folks, pit zips have been said to help. Richard Nisley has created several threads about approaches taken by those folks, and you can find them on BPL, and might be worth reading. There are many BPL threads on Paramo products. I’ve not tried any of the latest stuff, like Outdry, so can’t be of help there.
Should note that I’ve tried Epic pullovers in heavy rain, and they were worthless even for me, and I have a beautiful HellyHansen WPB rain anorak bought years ago that didn’t work at all. Just can’t bear to toss it. Tried ponchos in the old days, and found them very uncomfortable and annoying when bushwhacking or in windy weather; and dangerous when backpacking though shale or boulder fields in the mountains, where safety depends on foot and pole placement, Hope you find something that works better for you.Jul 17, 2019 at 6:48 am #3602249
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Lately I have been using a poncho/tarp with a windshirt underneath…
That’s what I take if heavy rain or serious thunderstorms are in the forecast. I keep meaning to add a skinny shock cord belt, but I haven’t planned any trips in those conditions for a while :-)
Anything less in the forecast, and I take an umbrella with a windshirt – in my case, the old GoLite Chrome Dome (available from others now with similar names) plus a 2013 Patagonia Houdini. That combo worked quite well on a five day trip when it rained steadily for four days, and even works well for Sierra Nevada afternoon thunderstorms.
I’ve given up on all miracle fabrics and most DWR coatings, and detest soaking in my own sweat wearing waterproof jackets. Even with pit zips, chest zips, and more, wearing a backpack over a jacket produces copious sweat under the jacket.
For me. YMMV.
— RexJul 17, 2019 at 6:36 pm #3602307
Thank you everyone for the insights.Jul 17, 2019 at 7:02 pm #3602312
Five StarBPL Member
@mammomanLocale: NE AL
“You first have to come to the realization that all raingear currently on the market sucks.”
Cereal now on monitor.Jul 17, 2019 at 7:18 pm #3602317
Yeah I am getting to that point and will probably just stick with my current systems of an OR Rampart and a poncho/windshirt combo. Thank you.Jul 18, 2019 at 4:06 am #3602398
Monty MontanaBPL Member
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
I found the Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule (~6 oz) and the Pack Trench (~10 oz) at a veritable fire sale, so I bought both, used both, and found them to work better than anything else I have. The length is extra long, so your butt and crotch don’t get soaked in a prolong rain. There’s a slit on each side for the hip belt to pass through which leaves the whole front of the jacket uncompressed, allowing air to flow freely, in effect pumping humid air out (there’s also pocket and pit vents). You can still find these remarkable jackets if you look around. SD also made rain chaps to go with them and are so comfortable because they keep your legs and crotch cool and dry.Jul 18, 2019 at 4:19 am #3602400
Mark FowlerBPL Member
Just a comment on the op. If a fabric is waterproof then it doesn’t matter what the weight of the fabric is -many of us sleep under 0.5oz fully waterproof fabrics. The weight of the base fabric is relevant to durability but not waterproofness.Jul 18, 2019 at 6:50 am #3602406
An alternative is Roger Caffin’s Mountain Poncho:
It’s basically a more tailored poncho – so you get the air circulation without it flapping in the wind or obscuring the view of your feet.
You have to make it yourself, or could get someone to run it up for you. It uses 1.1 oz silnylon.
A commercial alternative based on similar principles is the Packa, which some people swear byJul 19, 2019 at 12:23 am #3602525
CheersJul 19, 2019 at 4:09 am #3602546
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Sigh… as others have said, no rain gear just works… there are always tradeoffs. I think a non breathable poncho is what you are looking for given your criteria.
I can appreciate the non breathable, 100% waterproof option and periodically try it for a bit, but I just hate stewing in my own sweat. My favorite material right now is Gore Shakedry but it’s not up to serious abrasion.
On the other end is “get wet”. I have been doing this a lot more, maybe because many of my activities in the last couple of years have in in relatively warm conditions often working at fairly hight energy levels. I have given up on rain gear and instead wear air permeable, wicking, low water absorption clothing (typically polyester or fleece) and just get wet. I increase my effort if I am getting cold and continue until I am ready to stop at which point I get into shelter, dry off, and put on warm clothing.Jul 19, 2019 at 4:35 am #3602552
With Mark – ponchos or ‘get wet’.
CheersJul 19, 2019 at 9:01 am #3602561
For me, one key to comfort and safety in the rain is a technical mesh base layer, like the Brynje.
It keeps your capping baselayer off your skin, creating a comfortable layer of air between you and the wet fabric.
It also prevents flash cooling when you stop to rest.
And because there is so little to it, it dries very quickly by body-heat.
So if you’re wearing a non-breathable jacket or poncho, it isolates you from any damp that builds up inside the shell.
And if it’s warm and you’re simply getting wet, you’ll dry out quicker and won’t get chafed by wet fabric.
Plus, you look super-sexy! Well, maybe not, but functionality trumps looks, right?
It’s wins all round.Jul 19, 2019 at 10:12 am #3602562
The funny thing was, in the photo above, that while our feet were in snow and ice-cold water (it was!), inside our ponchos we were reasonably warm and sheltered. Sure, we were travelling fast, and that was generating heat, but that is the whole point, isn’t it?
CheersJul 19, 2019 at 8:02 pm #3602608
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
One time a huge storm that wasn’t in the forecast when I left home came in on day five. It was july in the Sierra but the storm was fairly cold–enough that it was sleeting hard around 9000 feet. I had to get over a big pass and then across snowfields before beginning my descent. All in all I was in near freezing storm conditions for several hours, and cold rain conditions for many more. My three layer Event rain jacket flat out saved my butt. It was cold so I wasn’t sweating despite a lot of uphill exertion; I didn’t wet out on the inside from sweat. Had I “just got wet” from the weather I would have become hypothermic or had to stop and set up my tent in very poor conditions.
A poncho would have worked too.Jul 19, 2019 at 9:49 pm #3602616
Jeffrey – sounds like an average day in the Scottish winter ;-)
I think the general consensus here is that these commercial jackets work somewhat when they are new – but as they age and the DWR loses effectiveness they begin to fail. Event in particular seems prone to this issue. And what if you were on a thru-hike and faced continuous rain for days on end? Again, the “breathable” fabrics often fail, sometimes dangerously.
Many experienced walkers, from Andrew Skurka down, are beginning to question the utility of these expensive fabrics and return to more basic silnylon and silpoly jackets or ponchos that rely on good mechanical ventilation.
They are cheaper and more reliable, and seem to work at least as well as the fancy commercial jackets for serious lightweight hiking. I was walking and climbing in Scotland for a decade before the invention of Gortex, and never got dangerously wet in my neoprene cagoules. I did try fancy Goretex jackets but never found them any better. But they made a lot more money for the outdoor industry…Jul 19, 2019 at 10:11 pm #3602621
This is a problem we have always faced: marketing spin has a so much bigger budget than does common sense and science (which usually has none).
Telling the difference is one reason why BPL exists.
CheersJul 23, 2019 at 4:08 am #3603073
Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
From reading this and similar threads, it is clear that best quality WPB tops work for some people as well as they do for me. But for those for whom they do not work, the mandated conclusion often seems to be that they don’t work for anybody. A pox on herd mentality. Vive La Différence!Jul 23, 2019 at 5:41 am #3603078
Ah Sam – now you have to define that key phrase: best quality WPB tops. And that is where the entire debate goes round and round, often in a fog of marketing spin.
Often it is not so much the top (or fabric) as the environment. For our conditions (in Oz) a silnylon poncho works wonderfully (our rain can be rather heavy); for the UK where ‘light showers’ are called ‘fine weather’, a Paramo fabric might be perfect.
So yeah – it all depends.
CheersJul 23, 2019 at 10:35 am #3603085
Sam – I accept that people and conditions differ, so no solution is going to work for everyone.
But are you really saying that you stay bone dry in your WPB top when working hard in persistent rain? Or do you get a bit damp, with some condensation on the inside of the shell?
Because if you’re getting a bit damp, that’s what I experience in a well-vented non-breathable. Have you tried both and got a better result in the WPB jacket? Or have you stuck with conventional jackets and assumed that they work better because you stay reasonably comfortable? Maybe not you, but I think a lot of people simply assume that WPB is superior because the marketing demonises non-breathable fabrics. But people did fine for generations before WBP emerged.
As I say, I’ve tried both over many years in a wide variety of wet conditions and haven’t noticed much difference, except in the price. If anything, well vented silnylon works better than poorly vented Goretex. So nowadays I use a jacket that costs $20 instead of $200, and it’s performed perfectly well in torrential multi-day alpine storms. Next experiment will be Roger’s mountain poncho…Jul 23, 2019 at 2:21 pm #3603095
Here on the plains it we usually have pounding rain for an up to hour which is why I try to stick with something that is just waterproof and that has venting or is a poncho.
@geoff, what silnylon rain jackets are you getting for $20? Yes, Roger’s poncho would be nice but I can not sew and I have alread asked the girlfriend more than enough for the next year in sewing projects.Jul 23, 2019 at 4:53 pm #3603112
Brett – it was just a cheap packable jacket from a consumer outdoor brand. Did just as well as my previous Goretex, but would have been better with more venting. Sadly it’s falling to bits after three years of regular wear and they don’t make it any more, so it’s time to run up a shaped poncho and give that a try.
The main problem with cheap jackets is poorly designed hoods – I had to alter mine to make it more usable.Jul 23, 2019 at 10:08 pm #3603157
The origins of my poncho include daily showers in the Pyrenees – several short ones each day. Our jackets were really inconvenient.
You could take a look at http://www.thepacka.com for a commercial poncho which looks like mine.
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