Which Rain Shell?

9:32 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I have been doing much research and attempting to wrap my head around all the different styles and types of rain/hard shells that are available, and find myself a little overwhelmed. I was wondering what some of the people on here use for their rain protection. I am mainly looking for good breathability as this is the issue with my current very "budget" rain layer. Are pit zips worth the cost or just another feature that most people don't use? I am willing to spend what it takes to get a quality piece this time around. Any suggestions would be appreciated and thank you in advance.

9:53 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I would recommend taking about 5 minutes and going through some of the posts already written on this topic. I am sure that you will find most of the information you are looking for.

10:44 a.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Adding that liberal use of the "search" function (in the upper right hand corner) searches on all threads, plus any articles and blog post at Trailspace.

IF you don't mind springing for Gore-Tex, the main varieties are Pro Shell (heaviest and most hard-core, mainly for expedition-level outings) and Paclite, which is lighter and a bit less expensive.

Lots of folks are raving over eVent, but it can be hard to find.

I have an Outdoor Research jacket with Pro Shell that I picked up on deep discount after Christmas. I took it out on mild rainy walks and started getting steamy inside. All "breathables" work only up to a certain limit and you will still sweat in them, just not as much as you would with a truly waterproof fabric.

2:17 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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armpit zips are essential for me. i think they really help.

gore tex pro shell is definitely more expensive than other flavors of gore tex. i have had a gore tex pro shell jacket for a few years, the marmot exum, that weighs maybe 16 ounces.

wild things gear makes quality eVent jackets - but it's pretty much mail order except perhaps for some speciality shops in the northeast. mine (a slightly odd design called the 'snowkite' with an asymmetrical zipper and harness ports) is a fairly spartan design, doesn't have lots of pockets for example. no matter - i love the jacket. both of the above have armpit zippers. the marmot is waist length, the wild things hip length. both have very easily adjustable hoods.

found both of these via sales, under $200, but it took some patient internet searching and waiting. the exum retails around $400 - i found a deeply discounted one (in a fuggly color) via a website called spadout that runs price searches. wild things may have been phasing out the snowkite, because it shows up on their outlet site for $175 - sizes probably limited. their 'superlight alpinist jacket' is also eVent and retails for 275.

i don't work for these companies (i'm a lawyer) but like their gear a lot.

4:14 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I always tell people that I found a simple pullover rain jacket for $3 at my local thrift store. No, it isn't perfect, but it was cheap and it works well enough for trekking through a little rainy weather.

10:26 p.m. on July 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I have a pair of Dri Ducks. I like them alot. But you do need to be carefull with them.

8:14 a.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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If you keep an eye open for them on steepandcheap.com, I have seen some eVent and ProShell shells go for some major discounts.

9:35 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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When slack packing, use an oversized frogg togg jacket to cover both you and the pack. You can open the front to let aif flow when it is not raining hard. Also, the material is loose enough to allow some ventilation when the front is closed. Cut the bottom out of a garbage bag and use it as a skirt. It'll keep all but your shoes dry and you can pull it up into your belt in between showers. If packing, use a Packa. I found an article about what must be achieved to label something as "breathable". It compares air flow to solid plastic. I think 5% was what was required. Ergo, we will not really feel any "breathability" when wearing rain jackets. The key is to get air flowing some other way.

10:55 p.m. on July 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Depends on your what you are using it for, but I've found that my Columbia jacket is great for just about every purpose I've used it for.

It is a waterproof breathable fabric that has a fleece liner zipped into it. Depending on my layering system, I'll leave the fleece in or just put the waterproof shell over other stuff.

I've had it for 5 years, and it is still waterproof to the point that I can hold it under the sink and no water comes through.

5 years ago it was probably about 100-150 bucks. Compared to gor-tex, north face, or other expensive brands, I probably saved a couple hundred bucks.

In my opinion, Columbia makes some pretty beefy outerwear and is very under rated because it is such a "layerpersons" brand, but I've used it in some dicey weather and it worked great. In fact in a very wet snow that dropped 40" of snow on us, it kept me dry. The only problem is that I was too warm, and after 6 hours of climbing, my inner layers were drenched with sweat because I wore too many clothes.

10:29 p.m. on August 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I have been carrying an old North Face jacket, but it's pretty heavy. So, for backpacking, I recently "replaced" it with a Marmot Minimalist. It offers less protection and is much simpler than the NF, which is more like a rain parka. But my goal was to have basic rain protection for summer trips in the Sierra ... with minimal weight, Goretex (paclite), and compact to store in my pack.

I've only used it once so far in a light shower, but so far so good :)

1:30 a.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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I have had several top of the line GT parkas since my first in 1977-78 and have one now; GT works well in SNOW and not very well in rain. I saw my buddy wearing his Montane eVent jacket and so I bought two from Integral Designs, a "Thru-Hiker", the most versatile and my favourite, a more robust "Pullover" in a heavier garbage bag green I love for hunting in the mountains...BC is largely rain and mountains.

I do not like pitzips as they interfere with my pack harness and I do not find them useful with eVent, ID does not use them, I have some "Wildthings" gear and they do....I will only buy eVent shells now and from only ID and WT...the gear costs, but, it is worth it, IMHO.

1:36 p.m. on August 3, 2010 (EDT)
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I always hated the hot, clammy feeling of most raingear so I went two different ways

1/ a good quality hooded cotton anorak that reached almost to my knees. This would keep the heavy mists and light rains off and was pleasant to wear.

2/ when the rain grew severe, I pulled out my poncho. This could cover both me and my pack, though I usually didn't put it over the pack. Cinched at the waist, the air was free to enter from the feet and under the arms. The poncho also substituted as a tent.

2:47 p.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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I really believe in an umbrella. Get a cheap one and try it. What have you got to loose?

4:18 p.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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A treking pole hand is what you lose. I find that when the rain is a comin down, that I value my treking poles even more. Because unless your hiking along on flat land, going up or down can be very slick in the rain.

I use a S2S pack cover, and a columbia stormdry jacket. Works good for me, only thing that gets wet is the pack straps which is no biggy.

7:31 a.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Sorry Rambler, but I was asking the original poster of this topic.

11:03 a.m. on August 13, 2010 (EDT)
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Good point Rambler. I hate to only have one hand available for my poles when it is mucky and wet and slippery, especially since I have yet to find a flat place to hike (hahaha). I realize people did it without poles in the past, but once you grow accustomed to them, they are like an extension of your arms, so only having one makes you feel almost handicapped.

BioMan,

If you are still looking for a jacket, check out the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine. They have a number of jackets they rated/reviewed for less than $100 (except one I think).

7:36 a.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
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I dont mind the transition, I walk around all day at work and at stores when I shop without them, But I do appreciate the umbrellas ability to prevent condensation build up and back off the rain

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