The Oware Silnylon Rain Chaps are two simple trouser legs made of silnylon, without the entire backside/crotch region. Unlike full pants, they can be put on one leg at a time, and of course they weigh less. There are loops of bungee cord at the ankles with cord locks, and tape loops at the ankles for instep cords so you can tie them down for use in the snow. The silnylon extends up the sides to some sewn-in lengths of nylon cord, which are used to hold them up. The Rain Chaps combine well with the Oware Poncho/Tarp or any poncho/tarp.
- Very light weight
- Reasonably generous size
- Fit easily over joggers
- Very little condensation
- Tie-down loops at ankles for snow conditions
What’s Not So Good
- Leg seams are not sealed, and could leak slightly
- Cords at waist level not very easy to use
- Hard to adjust the vertical position of the chaps
- Bungee cord at ankles gets in the way
|2005 Oware Rain Chaps|
|Measured weight 2.8 oz (80 g); manufacturer’s specification 3 oz (85 g)|
|Silicone-impregnated nylon, 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) nominal|
|31 in (71 cm)|
Width at foot
|10 in (25 cm)|
|None, but seam is folded over|
|2.4 in diameter x 3.5 in long (6 cm x 9 cm)|
What a silly idea – ‘chaps’ indeed! They look ridiculous!
Except that when I pulled them on, there seemed to be some logic after all. They are easy to put on in the rain, one leg at a time, unlike full overtrousers where you have to do a sort of dance to get both legs on at once without sitting in the mud or standing on the legs in the mud. They cover all my legs just as well as full overtrousers. OK, my backside would be exposed with a jacket, but it was very adequately covered by a poncho/tarp (see Oware Poncho/Tarp REVIEW). And they are so light! Hum – maybe not so ridiculous after all.
Back view of Oware Silnylon Chaps.
There are no zips at the bottom ends, but the legs are wide enough to be pulled over most joggers. The sewn-in cords at the waist level are there to hold the legs or chaps up, although exactly how you do this is not explained. I found two methods, described below.
The seam down the inside of the leg has been folded over so the edges are concealed, with one line of stitching visible. The inside leg length measures 31 inches (80 cm). I wore the chaps with gaiters in the snow, and this same strategy would extend rain protection for those who need a longer inseam.
They are quite roomy on me, but I weigh only 64 kg (141 lb, 10 stone).
Advantages and Limitations
I have already described one advantage: the Oware Rain Chaps are easy to get on and off one piece at a time. But there is more. By not covering my waist and backside, the Chaps allow much better ventilation. Let’s be realistic: full silnylon overtrousers can be a bit like a plastic bag. But with the open top end I get a fair bit of ventilation. Actually, it would be nice if the flair at the top of the leg opening was a shade wider, to improve the ventilation further, but this is a fine detail. You can achieve almost the same effect by not pulling the Chaps up too tightly, and this is quite possible.
Side view of Oware Chaps, showing fabric going up side to waist cord.
The bits of fabric going up the sides are quite adequate to hold the Chaps up: more is not needed. But I found that their position made getting to my trouser pockets quite difficult.
Oware Chaps with gaiters in the snow.
With the Oware Poncho/Tarp on, the lack of rain cover over my backside didn’t matter, and this would apply for most walking conditions. I am able to wander around in heavy rain with the Oware Rain Chaps and a poncho and stay quite dry inside. Under very cold conditions and with a short poncho, like in the snow in the picture here, I found my backside was a little cool at times. Also, I foresee problems in the snow if you go for a slide in them: you might get a very cold wet backside. Well, at that weight and volume, what do you expect?
Close up of the cord sewn to the top edge.
That’s not to say the Oware Rain Chaps are perfect. The arrangement for holding them up consists of a bit of cord sewn into the top of the fabric on each leg, as shown here. There are two obvious choices of how to use this cord: tie the bits to a belt, or tie the two of them around the waist as a belt. I very seldom wear a belt so I normally use the latter method. However, this requires that I have the ends tied together behind my back. I can tie the ends together before I put the Chaps on, but this restricts the separation of the two legs and complicates getting them on. Tying the ends together behind my back is possible, but tricky. The simplest seems to be a thumb knot (simple overhand knot) with both ends, but even that can be difficult in the rain with a pack on.
However, I have found that I can tie a knot fairly easily by dropping the tops of the Chaps down a bit so I can see the string between my legs. This looks a little inelegant while I am doing it, but works. With that done I can easily tie the other ends at the front to hold the Chaps up. This works fine.
Just what other arrangement could be devised? One would be if the top edge of the Chaps had a short wide tunnel at the top as well as a long sewn-in cord on one leg I could thread the cord through the tunnel in the other leg once they are on. We don’t want a permanent connection between the two halves or we are back to the ‘dancing in the mud’ exercise.
I also find it difficult to adjust the position of the Chaps up my legs. The slippery silnylon tends to slide down a bit on me. It would be nice if one could devise a really simple way of adjusting the vertical position of the Chaps with respect to one’s waist. Will Rietveld’s review of the Oware Gore-Tex chaps Oware Gore-Tex Rain Chaps REVIEW demonstrates his solution to this – with longer legs, he simply ties the chaps tightly to his belt loops. I usually just do the cord up tightly around my waist, hitch the chaps up every now and then, and stop worrying.
The bungee cord at the ankles turned out to be a bit of a problem. The amount of cord provided is rather long, and when I did up the cord lock there was this great length of bungee cord, with a large lumpy knot and a cord lock at the end, flapping around. I trod on it several times, and got it down the inside of my light jogger once. I tried tucking the bungee cord inside the ankle, and that worked most of the time. It might be better to use a fixed length cord totally inside the tunnel at the bottom (no cord lock): short enough that the leg would be gathered around the ankle, but long enough that it could be stretched out to full diameter of the bottom end of the legging. You don’t need the ankle done up tightly – in fact that can be uncomfortable.
However, I eventually removed the bungee cord completely and now I just put the bottom end of the Chaps inside my gaiters. This works fine and is shown in the snow picture. The use of gaiters also means I don’t need the tie-down loops at the ankle either.
Oware Poncho/Tarp in red bag, Oware Rain Chaps in blue bag
- The combination of separate legs (chaps) and the light weight is different from conventional rain pants, but not unique these days.
Recommendations for Improvement
For all my criticisms of fine details, these Oware Rain Chaps are very serviceable gear and I will be taking them with me on trips. A few suggested changes are:
- Improve the mechanism for holding them up (possibly have tunnels at the top or waist region and/or a longer lighter cord at the waist)
- Flare the top leg opening just a little more
- Omit the bungee cord at the ankles (lighter!)