Fleece jacket vs Waterproof jacket?

11:06 a.m. on August 14, 2015 (EDT)
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Ok this may sound beyond dumb and risk for hypothermia or is it? Anyway, I mostly hike during the day and never over night. I have trails and my own property were i live. So it was a pretty cool and light wind kinda day maybe 50 with the wind.  Chance of rain was 35% mostly cloudy but that turned into 100% without even knowing it. Anyway, I have seen this on other forum sites on staying warm while wet with fleeces. In general I know its more comfortable than staying dry then wet. However me and rain gear i either get hot, sweaty which thats never good. Ok down to the point, I had a North Face Denali hoodie, North Face Chimborazo hoodie, polyester Under Armour shirt, Under Armour base layer pants, EMS Polertec 200 fleece pants. My freind had a Waterproof Columbia Rain jacket, light pants, rain pants and a Columbia fleece hoodie underneath his jacket. So we started hiking which then he asked wearing a fleece jacket probably wasn't a good idea. My luck it half way though the tail it started to rain very hard. I forget how long it was but eventually I was soaked. Yeah I know it wasnt a good day to hike but oh well. It wasnt long before he said he was wet somehow. Well ive heard stories about rain gear wetting out but never believed it until then. The rain was insane but we kept going. Of course me wearing fleece i was already soaked to the bone but still warm? We didnt stop hiking so mabey the warm of me moving helped i dont know. So of course the goal mabey is to stay dry but for me I didn't want to be sweating in rain gear. My question is, as long as i am moving I stay warm? Whats your opinion on this? I

2:33 p.m. on August 14, 2015 (EDT)
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I wear both a inner fleece pullover and a rain jacket over coat. I do a combination of cycling and hiking year round. My rain jacket is a lightweight one made by a cycling company and it converts in seconds to a vest.  I can alway's take both, wearing what I need at the moment and stuffing whichever into my day pack when not needed.

7:57 p.m. on August 14, 2015 (EDT)
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Depends on the situation. Are you close to home/civilization, out for a short hike... yeah you are likely fine. Wet and uncomfortable yeah, and maybe a bit cold at the end, but no big deal.

Are you out in the mountains, far away from anyone else? If so, then that is a fairly stupid strategy. What if you slip and fall? What if you are just too tired to keep moving? What if you get lost?

If you prefer the "warm and wet" feeling. Perhaps look into Paramo gear, it is made of special fabric that quickly "pumps" water away from you. So you get wet, but stay warm and unless the weather is too crazy, will eventually dry out as you walk.

I tried it and its awful fpr my tastes, you are constantly walking in a warm soup of your own sweat.... but a lot of people swear by it.

11:26 p.m. on August 14, 2015 (EDT)
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Most of the hikes i am pretty close to home/civilization. But i do agree with the mountains going something different. 

6:34 p.m. on August 17, 2015 (EDT)
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I love fleece...and I hike wet...but I also bring something the reduce the amount of cold water and wind that touches my skin (usually a jacket or poncho...but sometime just a mylar blanket). In the summer I rarely use the rain gear I bring...but the times I have used it are memorable (blue lips and uncontrolled shivering in July). That is...everyone hates rain gear...until that point that the body can no longer warm the water against the skin sufficiently...then everyone thinks rain gear is the most amazing thing ever!

10:24 p.m. on August 17, 2015 (EDT)
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If you are out there 24 hours a day in wet conditions you are going to get wet, from the outside, from the inside, but usually both.

9:39 a.m. on August 18, 2015 (EDT)
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Thats good that there is other people out there that do this, I have see wool come up alot but it makes me itch. Dead serious. Thats why i gave up using rain gear, your going to get wet sooner or later. I could see going to car to store but that's not the case here. Seems like mother nature always has the upper hand.

12:04 p.m. on August 18, 2015 (EDT)
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a significant benefit of fleece, wool, whatever, is that if it gets soaked, you can wring out the moisture and still benefit from the jacket or sweater's ability to insulate.  that doesn't have much impact if you're hiking all day in the rain, but it helps a little to stop and shake the water out.

you're right that hiking in the rain in a shell jacket often means you will get wet from the inside, from sweat.  but on a cold, wet day, that is probably preferable to getting wet from rain and lowering your core body temperature to the point where you're at risk of hypothermia.  

i think you should choose clothing that fits the conditions to the best extent you can.  if you're hiking all day in a moderate to hard rain, you might consider the following:

-wear a wool or wicking synthetic t shirt under a rain shell - less insulation than a fleece, but as you observed, the shell keeps heat in.

-shell jackets aren't all built the same.  some shell jackets have better ability to vent moisture and heat than others.  eVent and polartec neoshell allow some air transfer through the fabric; jackets with large armpit zips help get cooler air in while helping moisture escape, without having to keep the front zipper open and let the rain flow in.

-ponchos allow quite a bit of air flow.  in some conditions, they are a great solution.  not a good solution on a very windy day.  

5:27 p.m. on August 18, 2015 (EDT)
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Chris- It really depends on how cold it gets. The lower the temp the quicker your clothes freeze and once they do you are not going to be far behind. Better to ask this question to our northern brother and sisters who have first hand knowledge. but if you are hell bent on fleece at least carry a pocket poncho to throw over your fleece. its not perfect but better than getting it wet and it should keep you dry with enough breathability. Now if your willing to spend the money starting at around $100 and going up there are now on the market some excellent rain jackets and pants that breath very well and keep you warm enough with just your regular clothes and or in conjunction with your winter wear such as your fleece jacket or other. I have a marmot oracle and the pants and am well pleased with them. But like I said i'm in the south and it very rarely gets below 25deg here.

1:08 p.m. on August 20, 2015 (EDT)
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If you scotchguard the fleece, a lot of the water will bead up and roll off (until it starts to rain really hard, then you could throw a lightweight jacket or poncho over it.  For that purpose, a garbage bag or a cheap plastic poncho can fi in a pocket.)

3:07 p.m. on August 21, 2015 (EDT)
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John raises a very pertinent point regarding the expected temp. Still, there are so many lightweight, water-repellent jackets on the market these days that it can be difficult to wade through the choices - backpacking, trail-running, cycling, endurance ... you name it.

I dayhike and backpack with a North Face hoody waterproof shell, very light, but wears well over the appropriate insulation layers. I prefer it because it works ... the venting design really does a decent job of preventing perspiration build-up. I'll usually pack a down vest or down sweater to wear underneath the raincoat, depending on weather forecast. (If I don't need it, it stays in it's zip-lock container and serves as a great pillow)

Rainpants - we seldom need them in the South so I rarely take them and prefer to hike in shorts.  I have a pair of Gore-Tex rainpants, but they're heavy ... designed for golf.  I could use a good pair of lightweight waterproof rainpants.

5:56 p.m. on August 21, 2015 (EDT)
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When it gets cold, snow is much easier to deal with than the dreaded cold rain in the 30s.

I looked for a pack cover for a Kelty Tioga with an extended bar on the top. No one makes one. Fortunately, a large black plastic garbage bag like a Hefty 33 gallon is a good fit. I just have to cut holes for the straps. A garbage compacter bag will go in the sleeping bag stuff sack. I have used plenty of garbage bags as a vest in summer mountain rain storms for many years.

Those items will prevent getting soaked in a monsoonal mountain rain storm. The rest of the time, I mostly rely on wool and fleece.

7:27 p.m. on August 22, 2015 (EDT)
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Most of my very small hikes I either wear a North Face Denali, or a LL Bean Polertec 200 hoodie which both are water resistant. However my Columbia fleece is another story, its not water resistant and gets soaked by only a drop of water. Never tried the garbage bag but I do have a breathable waterproof LL Bean jacket but eventual you get wet both inside and out. Its a never ending battle.

7:11 p.m. on August 30, 2015 (EDT)
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The negative side of fleece outerwear when wet is that is adds additional load as well as limiting motion which limits your speed, endurance and comfort. Andrew F. suggested wringing out the fleece. It will provide some relief, but if you continue exposed to wet elements you continue to limit as described above.

2:38 p.m. on September 2, 2015 (EDT)
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People have stayed both warm and dry in the outdoors long before "breathable" clothing hit the market. If you were to wear a wool shirt or heavier wool garment under a commodious, hooded, oiled-canvas poncho, with a belt for the poncho, your crucial upper-body areas would be protected. 

Ponchos are a hikers best friend, IMO. As clothing, they can provide waterproof protection with adequate ventilation. As a quick shelter, they are superb. They also serve as a good groundcloth on wet ground when sleeping in the open or under a fly.

1:42 p.m. on September 4, 2015 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

People have stayed both warm and dry in the outdoors long before "breathable" clothing hit the market. If you were to wear a wool shirt or heavier wool garment under a commodious, hooded, oiled-canvas poncho, with a belt for the poncho, your crucial upper-body areas would be protected. 

Ponchos are a hikers best friend, IMO. As clothing, they can provide waterproof protection with adequate ventilation. As a quick shelter, they are superb. They also serve as a good groundcloth on wet ground when sleeping in the open or under a fly.

 Totally agree.

In really windy, cold, harsh conditions I would prefer a pants and long parka, or ski bibs and jacket, but a poncho is completely do-able with a belt. In the humid southeast I find it very hard to beat the performance, multi - function, and convenience of a poncho.

A poncho really helps with providing better ventilation so you don't sweat to death inside rain gear, while trying to stay dry from the rain.

On my longer day hikes I take a poncho and lightweight bivy if I think there is any significant chance I could get stuck out in the cold overnight. 

Anyhow, for most of my trips I prefer fleece & wool for insulation, with a non-insulated water / wind proof layer that I can ventilate.

I usually will not even put rain gear on if I think the rain is just going to be a quick shower, even if it is chilly out (not when really cold & windy though ), I just keep moving.

I have recently also started using a Sierra Designs Cagoule (albeit a shorter length than traditional) and love it with fleece underneath.

10:53 a.m. on September 10, 2015 (EDT)
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Working in SE Alaska, I started out with a suit of Goretex, but then went to Filson oil cloth pants and a wool Filson Cruiser coat, the Alaskan tuxedo. It was much more comfortable. The Filson clothes are heavier, but they resist getting torn up in the brush. They are okay on one's person, but too heavy to carry in a pack. Even in July, I wore a Stanfield wool union suit under it all. When  we came  to rivers, we had to wade them. We were wet all the time, but never cold. When the rain stops, the brush is still dripping wet. The month of October averaged 30 inches of rain.

For summer conditions in the lower 48, any combination of clothing will probably work.


9:42 a.m. on October 19, 2015 (EDT)
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I've used the following last month out in the Cariboo bush here in northern Britsh Columbia last month. Weather turned cold and rainy. Was out bush whacking doing some surveying work with my dad, so was also not on any trail, so a lot of boggy, branchy, thorny, slippery, muddy spots.

- Patagonia waterproof shell with Goretex. Flexible for use on cool fall days or layer for snow. 

- Mountaim Equipment Coop waterproof, breathable pants with Pertex. 

-Scarpa Kailash GTX waterproof boots, paired with gators

- technical under layer of thin hiking pants and nylon/spandex quick dry top

- my boyfriends very old pack with waterproof cover. 

It did get bit warm after trekking for a while, but after a while I acclimatized, and didn't find myself too wet and sweaty. Just opening my jacket now and then helped. Was hiking through about 6 hours straight and no issues. No wet feet either.  This was *way*  nicer than the cheap waterproof pants and jackets I've owned in the past, where I would feel like I would get drenched. 

I was very glad to have worn the rain pants. After crossing a couple of large fallen, wet, mossy logs, I would have soaked my pants through in no time otherwise. 

I also ported a spare poncho in my pack just in case the rain got torrential. Didn't need it so can't report on that yet. Also stuffed an extra technical (not feather) 'down' jacket just in case we got stuck out there over night. Didn't need it, but I've worn it other times and it is a great light thing to have. I got this instead of the down because if you are caught in a bone chilling soak, then it is lighter and can dry out faster.  I've been stuck up on a snowy mountain before with a stupidly expensive waterproof down jacket before that was not actually waterproof that goat soaked in a rain/snow storm. Not an experience to repeat. 

No issues with anything tearing even though going through patches of devil's club and through a lot of dead blow down trees with scraping branches. But that was just after a couple days. If I was out longer I did have the sense of awareness that I'd have to be careful not to tear something, so it's good if you are more of a woods ninja, than crashing through the brush, with lighter technical gear. My dad got pretty scraped up compared to me. He just had some regular work pants on. 

Near the end of the day hiking, when I got a better feel for the terrain, I switched to my Five Fingers because I find stiff hiking boots bother my feet. Got a bit damp but was lovely, and I felt I could be more nimble and do less damage to delicate moss, mugwort and mycorrhizae that were all around than with my clunky compacting boots. 

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