Any suggestions for waterproof jacket and pants?

1:44 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I'll be in Vermont in september doing a long distance obstacle course race. My main concern is with the weather. I live and train in the scorching hot south and it could be as low as the 40's in Vermont next month, which will be fine...unless it rains.

That said, I've looked at reviews but honestly there are so many to look at. If anyone can help me out with advice, here are key needs.

Jacket and pants

1 - light weight 

2- packs small

3- VERY durable 

4- as waterproof as possible

I'll be able to layer, so I don't need anything lined or stuffed.

Thanks you so very much for any and all advice!


4:02 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Patagonia's Torrenshell jacket might work and I assume they make a pair of pants out of similar material.  More durable tends to be more weight which is a nasty tradeoff.

How much money do you want to spend?  There is a lot of nice gear out there which is quite light, but spendy.

4:34 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Helly Hansen. That is the common clothing in Alaska with 150 inches of rain.

4:50 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Mel, back in my road biking days, I did a 100-mile organized ride in the pouring rain. One of the guys in our group showed up in his top-of-the-line, expensive rain gear and laughed at the rest of us as we stood shivering in the cold (low-50's and a steady rain).

After the first 25 miles, the joke was on him. The rest of us were warmed up and too wet to care if we got more wet. Rain gear guy was overheated and drenched in sweat. He had no place to stow his expensive rain gear. So he was stuck wearing it.

So, just keep in mind there is a point where something can be too warm and too waterproof.

5:03 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I checked the reviews on the torrenshell and one of them said not particularly durable. Comfort is more valuable than money, so if you have other recommendations I'll check into them.


What model in the Helly Hnasen?


I hear ya. Thats why it needs to pack small, so it'll fit into the small pack I'll be carrying. If there is no call for rain then I won't need to take it but since I feel the cold I WILL need it if it's raining and below 50. Better to be prepared!

A jacket is definitely priority over pants, but if they pack small enough, I'll take both.

Thanks everyone!

5:08 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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May I ask what you mean when you state durability?

What will you expose the shell too?

I love my Westcomb Specter. Then again I also love my Arc'teryx Alpha SV.

Both shells serve a different purpose for me.

The Specter for 3 season use(mild winter as well.)

The Alpha is for when you know what hits the fan.

5:33 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Good question. If it can survive 70+ military style obstacles and come home with   little enough damage that it can be used again, even if just for the same purpose. I'll check out your recommendations. 

5:39 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Specter looks nice. A review says no too durable, but it's light weight and very packable according to reviews. I don't think I need the Alpha in september. Then again, mother nature does like to throw a curve ball once in a while :)

6:21 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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For once, I have to agree with ppine. While it's generally heavier than backpackers want, Helly Hansen is solid equipment, purchased as workwear more often than as hiking gear. 

If it has to hold up under severe conditions, I'd be less interested in the weight and more in the durability. 

7:43 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Well, being you are going to put the shell to that type of abuse(military style) why not just go with something designed to take it?

You could snag up a whole ECWCS(gore-tex) set-up for what you may pay for a higher end shell and it can take a serious pounding. 

Here is a whole set for $110: 

11:02 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Ahhh the whole packs small, light weight but durable thing again. Your gonna have to prioritize which of those is more important because unlesss you willing to shell out big bucks for some sort of dyneema super suit those two things are at odds with one another.

If it were me I'd be looking at something made of Neoshell mostly for the fact that it's the most breathable waterproof material out there, very important, especially so you aren't losing to much water through sweating inside a jacket. The EMS brand one goes on sale often, usually can be bought for under $200. I've used it for a season of ice climbing with no problem, although its not barbed wire crawling! I'd probably consider it medium pack size and weight though.

10:59 a.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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You da bomb! I looked at several reviews and army supply websites and the ECWCS looks like a winner. Light weight, packable, durable, super waterproof, outer layer... perfect! 

I actually went ahead and bought the set from the link. Now I'm (almost) hoping it DOES rain so I can on the course so I can put it to the test!

Thanks to everyone for the input!

1:05 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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This was a useful discussion even if it did lead to googling some things I don't have money for 8p

I usually just get wet on trail and only use rain gear in camp but the trip I'm working on for next month is mostly at (East Coast) elevation and combined with Sep temps I'm debating my options. I'm sure the subject comes up ten times a year but thanks for posting info anyway!

3:13 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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if i were doing a race like that, i would assume that whatever you bring is likely to get torn or damaged....and i wouldn't use a really high-quality gore tex, eVent or Neoshell jacket or pants.  Rather, I would spend as little as possible and assume the pants/jacket will get damaged, if you even end up using them.  mid-race, you could repair a cheap solution with a few lengths of duct tape (unspool 20-30 inches of tape, then wrap that length in upon itself to save space and weight). 

besides, while ECWCS is definitely durable and waterproof, it is much more bulky and heavy (and expensive) than other options.  dri ducks fit each of your categories except 'durable.'  i'm guessing a driducks jacket and pants together weigh 10 ounces, they pack incredibly small.  they won't cost more than 20 bucks for the jacket and pants combined. and they are so inexpensive that you won't mind if they get mashed up a little.   


8:40 p.m. on September 12, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm with Andrew...I immediately thought of cheap that if they get wrecked you don't really care (which it sounds like almost any gear would)...and driducks do temporarily patche up a lot better than expected with a duct-tape (I've finished multiday section-hikes with it).

If my performace (other than simply completing it) mattered on the course at all I would without a doubt go with the driducks ultralite...someone wearing a ECWCS jacket and pants MIGHT come home with them MOSTLY undamaged...but that person is not going to jump as as as someone wearing driducks...its like a dumptruck vs. a motorcycle.

If durability is more important than any other fact (particularly performance)then the ECWCS is a good pick...because military stuff is crazy overbuilt (I don't think it is possible to tear up my ISGU gortex bivy...I've almost tried)...but the ECWCS would not fit in 99% of people's understanding of packable and lightweight.

11:29 p.m. on September 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Two large garbage sacks :)

June 22, 2018
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