Recommend rain gear for hiking?

  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 18, 2016 12:09 AM GMT
    It's been years since I bought new rain gear and things have moved on. Any tips for the best?

    I'm a heavy sweater, so breathability is important, and I'm doing a lot of walking in the rain in Seattle, with a trans-England hike planned for next year. So rain gear that's genuinely water-proof, breathes, and is easy to roll up and stuff into a day pack.
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    Jan 18, 2016 4:31 AM GMT
    I haven't come across anything that's thin, easily packed, and yet really waterproof. Anything gore-Tex, (or other non-infringing membrane systems) I suppose, but Gore-Tex is fragile and can only really exist for very long if it's sandwiched between fairly substantial layers of other stuff. I'm thinking that any lightweight version is going to be expensive and ephemeral.

    Columbia brand stuff is medium-priced and yet pretty bullet-proof. Although my Columbia winter boots have never let my feet get cold, but they just retain all of the odors. Ew.
    It's a bit bulky for hiking, maybe.

    Columbia stock has recently taken a big hit because some retard NYC analyst wrote that global warming will eliminate the need for foul weather gear. icon_rolleyes.gif

    51uMxAEYgbL._SS500_.jpg

    Beyond that, I don't know, but high-end sailing foulies run in the kilobucks. I'm sure those same rich people must buy separate hiking gear...
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    Jan 18, 2016 4:58 AM GMT
    I lived in the Seattle area for 5 years, and Columbia brand rain parkas are very popular, sold there from many stores. Seattle residents really know their rain gear.

    Gore-Tex is still one of the best materials for combining water resistance with breathability. Otherwise you get as wet inside the parka from your own perspiration. Depending on the time of year a little weight with some insulating qualities is desirable, or of course you can always layer, so buy a little loose. There's less rain for much of the summer, a lot of people go with a much lighter parka to roll up in a hiker backpack. For extensive hiking you might want some matching rain pants, too.

    Just as an aside, for all the threat of rain (and Seattle actually doesn't have rain as much as you may have heard), umbrellas are not that common a sight, even downtown. The rain is often just light or a drizzle, fewer torrential downpours than we have in places like Florida. The ubiquitous parka or a trench coat with business attire is more typical and adequate, with some headgear, or the parka hood up.

    Oh, and I like a parka that opens in front, for warmer and drier moments. Some rain parkas are pullovers (actually my golf one is, but very lightweight for my bag), and obviously give you less ventilation control. Look for a breathable vented panel over the shoulders in back, and sometimes venting under the arms.
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    Jan 18, 2016 5:07 AM GMT
    ^ I'm sure the OP knows that, but for point of trivia, a "pull-over parka" is called an "anorak."

    The set of places where umbrellas are common is not congruent with the set of areas that have wind. I never even saw an umbrella IRL until I went to college.
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    Jan 18, 2016 4:37 PM GMT
    Showers Pass works for me, and quite well.
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    Jan 18, 2016 5:31 PM GMT
    Does REI still have a Seattle store? They used to have a wide selection of rain gear, with a focus on hiking.
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    Jan 18, 2016 7:36 PM GMT
    Outdoor Research (OR) and Patagonia has great stuff. Patagoochie is pretty pricey though. See if you can wrangle a pro-deal. OR is quite generous in who qualifies. Also group discount online sites like ProMotive can be a way to score a pro-deal like arrangement. I have never shopped anywhere but online with either although retailers sell both brands. Columbia and Mountain Hardware are other brands that are popular and more reasonably priced.

    REI and Eastern Mountain Sports usually have knock offs made of the major brands but I have found they miss the mark in fit and finish.

    Most gear now has pit zips and even jackets that zip all the way down the sides for ventilation. I've had some of the light weight stuff delaminate and fail but both Patagonia and OR have very good warranty policies.

    I still have the Helley Hanson commercial fishing gear bibs and coat I bought almost 30 years ago when I worked in the woods for USFS. I'll be as wet w/sweat as if I was just getting rained on w/o them on.

    Actually HH and Carhart also makes modern rain gear although I am less familiar with those products.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 18, 2016 9:25 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidDoes REI still have a Seattle store? They used to have a wide selection of rain gear, with a focus on hiking.


    They sure do - it's the flagship store!
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    Jan 18, 2016 9:57 PM GMT
    BTW: Showers Pass Gore-Tex-like socks in the nooz today

    http://www.oregonlive.com/sports-uniforms/index.ssf/2016/01/portland_company_develops_wate.html
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    Jan 18, 2016 10:23 PM GMT
    tazzari said
    Art_Deco saidDoes REI still have a Seattle store? They used to have a wide selection of rain gear, with a focus on hiking.

    They sure do - it's the flagship store!

    I remember it as being pretty big, with an indoor rock climbing wall.

    Of course, Eddie Bauer started as a Seattle outfitter, that was their HQ. I used to get my goose down winter jackets from them, and my down sleeping bags, tents and lots of other outdoor camping gear. And look what happened to them.

    Another example is Abercrombie & Fitch. I shopped their Mahattan store when they were also a premium outfitter. Got a shotgun and some of my freshwater fishing tackle from them. And we also know what they became.

    So it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that any of these other stores could have similar fates. I just didn't know. I never see an REI, but in South Florida it's all about salt water fishing, and little else with this flat terrain.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 18, 2016 11:55 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    tazzari said
    Art_Deco saidDoes REI still have a Seattle store? They used to have a wide selection of rain gear, with a focus on hiking.

    They sure do - it's the flagship store!

    I remember it as being pretty big, with an indoor rock climbing wall.

    Of course, Eddie Bauer started as a Seattle outfitter, that was their HQ. I used to get my goose down winter jackets from them, and my down sleeping bags, tents and lots of other outdoor camping gear. And look what happened to them.

    Another example is Abercrombie & Fitch. I shopped their Mahattan store when they were also a premium outfitter. Got a shotgun and some of my freshwater fishing tackle from them. And we also know what they became.

    So it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that any of these other stores could have similar fates. I just didn't know. I never see an REI, but in South Florida it's all about salt water fishing, and little else with this flat terrain.


    Maybe we can console ourselves about Abercrombie & Fitcvh by thinking of some of their models...

    I joined REI about 45 years ago, when they were still in a loft somewhere down toward the waterfront. A friend of mine, who was later head of the bike and ski departments started there straight out of the army in the 60's and sold all 6 pairs of cross-country skis that they had. They were so pleased the doubled the order and brought in 12 pairs the next year - this thing was taking off!

    In 74 I went in to get skis for my team. Fiberglass skis had just come in and they were dumping the wood skis. I asked my friend what they wanted for the skis they were about to put in the chipper, and he asked me how much I had on me - the skis wound up cost $1.79 a pair, and I tool 'em all! I even still have one - the rest got broken over the first year or so.
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    Jan 19, 2016 3:57 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidDoes REI still have a Seattle store? They used to have a wide selection of rain gear, with a focus on hiking.


    ummm REI is headquartered in Seattle.
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    Jan 19, 2016 5:06 AM GMT
    tazzari said
    In 74 I went in to get skis for my team. Fiberglass skis had just come in and they were dumping the wood skis. I asked my friend what they wanted for the skis they were about to put in the chipper, and he asked me how much I had on me - the skis wound up cost $1.79 a pair, and I tool 'em all! I even still have one - the rest got broken over the first year or so.

    I didn't buy my first X-country skis until 1978 while living in Germany. They were a fiberglass waxless model, using a fishscale pattern. I taught myself how to ski with them, took to it rather naturally. I could ski half the day, my favorite time being right after a fresh snowfall, before anyone laid tracks. I loved to break trail if the conditions were good, and avoided groomed trails a great deal.

    I continued that back in the States of Minnesota and North Dakota. Until one day one of my Army ROTC college cadets, while I had my class out skiing as part of their winter adventure training, got too close to me. He sent his pole spike right into my left ski and shattered the fiberglass. It was only a shell around a rigid foam core, and vulnerable to penetration. I could slowly make it back to the armory, the ski ready to snap. Then I threw them away.

    I borrowed some classic skis for the last few weeks of winter, but I wasn't good at waxing. Never acquired the skill of choosing the correct wax for the snow conditions and temps, couldn't get the hang of the technique.

    I knew I was being reassigned shortly, which turned out to be snowless San Antonio, Texas. I never got XC skis again, and now I'm too disabled anyway. But I sure loved it while it lasted. Great exercise, and I treated it like hiking and sightseeing, but in the snow.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Jan 19, 2016 5:13 PM GMT
    REI is big into bike gear too, Art. We have a store here but it is easier to do mail order than to drive through town to the snoots in the air area where they are and the traffic is hideous.

    Rain gear is a perfect pain. Depends on what you have to deal with. When I was a cam counsellor and had to be out in whatever happened, I often used a poncho. It was very hard to find one that was flexible and really waterproof but the open sides were a help. A good hat was also a help. The best was an all wool fedora...once wore one during a 17 day stretch of rain and kept a dry head the whole time.

    If you choose to do a parka keep an eye toward ventilation and maybe get it a bit oversized. The worst part of using one in rain is sweating inside it.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 19, 2016 7:39 PM GMT
    LJay saidREI is big into bike gear too, Art. We have a store here but it is easier to do mail order than to drive through town to the snoots in the air area where they are and the traffic is hideous.

    Rain gear is a perfect pain. Depends on what you have to deal with. When I was a cam counsellor and had to be out in whatever happened, I often used a poncho. It was very hard to find one that was flexible and really waterproof but the open sides were a help. A good hat was also a help. The best was an all wool fedora...once wore one during a 17 day stretch of rain and kept a dry head the whole time.

    If you choose to do a parka keep an eye toward ventilation and maybe get it a bit oversized. The worst part of using one in rain is sweating inside it.


    I went in to REI (from Edmonds) yesterday - hardly any traffic,and I got help from two very well-informed employees - one in the rain gear section (Went with Patagonia Refugitive jacket: very good water resistance; and REI rain pants - good enough:the jacket is the important thing) - and one in backpacks: got an Osprey off-the-back day pack.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 19, 2016 7:43 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    tazzari said
    In 74 I went in to get skis for my team. Fiberglass skis had just come in and they were dumping the wood skis. I asked my friend what they wanted for the skis they were about to put in the chipper, and he asked me how much I had on me - the skis wound up cost $1.79 a pair, and I tool 'em all! I even still have one - the rest got broken over the first year or so.

    I didn't buy my first X-country skis until 1978 while living in Germany. They were a fiberglass waxless model, using a fishscale pattern. I taught myself how to ski with them, took to it rather naturally. I could ski half the day, my favorite time being right after a fresh snowfall, before anyone laid tracks. I loved to break trail if the conditions were good, and avoided groomed trails a great deal.

    I continued that back in the States of Minnesota and North Dakota. Until one day one of my Army ROTC college cadets, while I had my class out skiing as part of their winter adventure training, got too close to me. He sent his pole spike right into my left ski and shattered the fiberglass. It was only a shell around a rigid foam core, and vulnerable to penetration. I could slowly make it back to the armory, the ski ready to snap. Then I threw them away.

    I borrowed some classic skis for the last few weeks of winter, but I wasn't good at waxing. Never acquired the skill of choosing the correct wax for the snow conditions and temps, couldn't get the hang of the technique.

    I knew I was being reassigned shortly, which turned out to be snowless San Antonio, Texas. I never got XC skis again, and now I'm too disabled anyway. But I sure loved it while it lasted. Great exercise, and I treated it like hiking and sightseeing, but in the snow.


    I've been 99.9% on groomed trails - but x-c coaching and tech support (waxing!) was my career. and those early fiberglass skis were pretty easy to wreck - they've come a long way since!

    You could still roller ski in San Antonio! icon_smile.gif

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    Jan 19, 2016 8:35 PM GMT
    tazzari said
    You could still roller ski in San Antonio! icon_smile.gif

    I'm not sure we had roller skis in 1986? If so I didn't see them. My outdoor adaptation to South Texas was camping.

    Shortly after arriving I bought a small camper van. Took it through the Texas Hill Country to the west of the City, and down to Corpus Christi. Where there was a Navy family campground on the Gulf. And a little further south was South Padre Island and a public campground right on the beach.

    North of San Antonio was Canyon Lake, on which both the Air Force and the Army had large family campgrounds. Complete with convenient on-site exchanges with food and basic camper supplies, at minimal prices.

    It's little known, even by many guys who wear a uniform, but the military used to run an extensive network of recreational camps all across the country. Plus so does the Army Corps of Engineers, at many of their numerous water projects. That the general public can also use, at very reasonable fees.

    Then I began using places like REI for specialized camping equipment. Because after the camper van following my next assignment I got 2 camper trailers in succession, which were larger and better equipped. And still kept a couple of tents (one a vintage Eddie Bauer) for camping off my motorcycle, which requires a different kind of outdoor gear. I love browsing in those kinds of stores.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2937

    Jan 19, 2016 11:00 PM GMT
    And still kept a couple of tents (one a vintage Eddie Bauer) for camping off my motorcycle, which requires a different kind of outdoor gear. I love browsing in those kinds of stores.

    You and your new tents! icon_smile.gif I've still got the one Dad bought war surplus in 1946, and used when he came west on his motorcycle (a war surplus Indian).

    I love those stores too, but I miss the old army surplus stores! The ones that were really army surplus. Dad's ham radio rig was also war surplus, off a B25.

    (PS _ We had roller skis in the 70's - got my first pair in about '72 or '73; but they're for hard-core racer types with think skulls, like me!)
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    Jan 20, 2016 2:54 AM GMT
    I have the REI Motility jacket, which has some nice features. If you google, "rei motility rain jacket review" you'll see reviews of that jacket as well as several others.
  • tj85016

    Posts: 4123

    Jan 20, 2016 7:46 AM GMT
    Patagonia, REI, Colombia, OR

    Patagonia is the best in my opinion