It just so happens that most of my backpacking trips end up with me hiking for prolonged periods in the rain. So much so, in fact, I am considering opening up my own guide company called “Murphy’s Law Adventures”.
Alas, the inclement weather will come no matter how you plan to avoid it. This is caused me to go down a rabbit hole of modern tech’s “breathable” yet “water proof” rain gear. I currently hike in the Outdoor Research Foray pant and the Outdoor Research Helium HD jacket. I thoroughly enjoy the Foray pants for multiple reasons, mainly the 3/4 zipper going up each leg. The Helium HD jacket is ok for lightweight purposes, but it always seems to wet out even with the pit zips open.
WETTING OUT. This is a huge negative I have with modern rain gear. I despise the fact that I spent hundreds of dollars, and I can’t seem to stay DRY. I’m not talking about sweating through the rain gear. I’m talking about having it soak through from the outside. Yes I’ve taken care of it and I’ve treated it properly with Nikwax. My hiking buddy uses Frogg Toggs, and he ALWAYS stays MORE DRY than I do. And he paid a fraction of the cost. I’m almost done with paying top dollar on rain gear and ready to transition to Frogg Toggs. They even have ultra light options for $50!
Has anyone else used Frogg Toggs in prolonged rain? What is your opinion of them?
I used Frogg Toggs and found them to be very breathable and waterproof. I was pleasantly surprised. Have not used in day after day of rain though.
Be aware that there are different weights of the fabric. Get the lightest.
However they are very fragile so don't go scooting on rocks with them. Just normal care on the trail is all you need. If it tears by an unseen branch use duct tape inside to repair it on trail.
@speakingquitefrankly out of curiosity, what is your more lightweight, and durable option? I'd like to stay away from DWR gear. I have found both of these as viable, 7 Oz. options:
I've used them on both the Trials in NC and on my Motorcycle. They work...you get weeping around the wrists but thats to be expected. Also, you can buy around 5 pairs for what some of the new rain jackets run....
well, now that you mention it, I just may have a thought or 17 on this subject @tadoerner !
1. I hate hiking in the rain, especially cold rain, even more when the temp is cold and the rain is cold, absolutely miserable.
2. I'll cancel a weekend trip in a heartbeat if rain pops up in the forecast, unless it's pretty hot and it's someplace I want to go.
3. If rain pops up in the forecast, and I'm flying to the trailhead, then it does really-really suck.
4. My new 'philosophy' (get it? lol), is that one is going to get wet. note: my frame of reference here is backpacking.
5. therefore, I no longer try to think in terms of 'staying dry' buy in terms of 'rain management'.
...so I prepare for every trip the exact same, one set of clothes to hike in, and if they get wet, something to change into, inside the tent, to wait it out, and if needs be, to put back on the wet clothes the next day with the intent of 'walking them dry'.
therefore the objective is to stay warm when walking and not get hypothermia.
and I no longer look for 'breathable' anything, only waterproof, and here's why, I need a waterproof jacket, usually MUCH CHEAPER, to go over my down if it winds up being cool enough to wear it, or to wear around camp.
I also preach to put up your tent first thing, (in case it rains), second, get your water (in case it rains) then you'll have your water and can cook in your vestibule.
several years ago, when still blogging I penned these:
about the only time I've been able to carry a pack in the rain, and not get soaked,in summer, was in iceland, in july, when it was pretty cold, in the low 50's, maybe upper 40's, before the sun came back out. very surprised and happy, there was a 'balance' between the rain to sweat ratio.
Some of the absolute worst trips I've ever had was donning all my breathable/waterproof jacket/pants in the white mtns in new hampshire, trying to stay dry,but being cold wet and miserable, and soaked on the inside and loosing strength due to overheating in my 'rain gear'. (in july)
I really had to get a strong paradigm shift, away from the 'how do I stay dry' line of thought. I'm happy I didn't die.
above, smiling on the iceland 'lauga vegur' trail
above the white mountains, toughest hiking in the US, trying to kill me!
@Philreedshikes your philosophy of getting trail clothes wet and keeping a dry set of clothes for sleep/camp sounds like what I am “learning my way into”. I’ve always made sure to have a dry set of clothes for sleep, but I have tried and tried to also stay dry while hiking.
Question: have you completely gone without rain gear while hiking? Or do you still have a truly water proof jacket and pant handy? If so, what is your current waterproof jacket and pant?
@tadoerner I always carry my water proof NF Jacket but only bring the rain paints if it’s going to be very cold and rain is definitely in the picture, the rain jacket is ubiquitous and protects ‘layers’.
my REI Sierra classic convertible pants are worth their weight in gold because the dry so fast, I’ve been sewing them for years, because, of course, REI stopped carrying them
To clarify, I don’t carry a ‘second set’ of clothes, per se, just some nylon shorts and t-shirt, maybe a light sweater or thicker pull over