The following chart is a reasonably complete listing of all the lightweight alternative rainwear available today. Given the profligacy of cottage backpacking shops, I no doubt missed at least a few products. Most of the products I was able to test in the field. Due to constraints of time and finances, some products reviewed in detail by BPL in the past were not reviewed, and for similar reasons some noteworthy new products were also not tested. All products are listed here for the convenience of the consumer.
All field testing took place in northwestern Montana during the spring and summer. While we get plenty of sun here, especially in the summer, Pacific Northwet (not west) type weather fronts often grace us for days at a time, bringing frequent rain showers, foggy drizzle, humidity, cold, and heavy, wet snow. I experienced all of these during testing. Thanks to this often-intense precipitation, our non-alpine terrain (especially that west of the Continental Divide, subject to orographic lifting) features dense, tall, intense brush. The only thing that will soak you better than the mixed rain and sleet going over the pass in June is the soaked, head-high brush down below. It should be obvious that rain gear gets used rigorously in my hiking.
I am 5'11", around 160 pounds, have a 38" chest and wear 33" inseam jeans. The majority of my backpacking is done solo, and I like to hike quickly and hike all day. I am not in the habit of canceling or rerouting trips due to weather, and, because I usually have to be back for my real job on Monday, I do not sit out bad weather. I produce a lot of heat and sweat - what I consider to be an unusual amount, even for someone who prefers to hike as hard as I do. Prior to this test I almost always used a WPB anorak and windpants for raingear, with the typically chilly local conditions driving a preference for weatherproofness over venting. All of these biases should be kept in mind while reading the following.
- Testing Conditions and the Tester
- Rainwear by the Numbers
- Simple Poncho-Tarps
- Complex Poncho-Tarps
- Alternative Upperbody Rainwear
- Alternative Legwear
- Recommendations for Use
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