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backpacking raingear consideration


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Ok we know Philmont has cancelled their treks this year.  So I was searching some gear sites to consider for AT backpacking that has to meet some criteria.  My first thought is a set of Frogg Toggs.  They are inexpensive, semi durable, top and bottom, and repel water well.

Criteria must be considered.  Price is always an object; top and bottom or just one garment; poncho or suit; durability; size (whether fleece, t-shirt, or cold weather clothing underneath); Color is minor as I like the LNT concealed with groups, but like the bright colors if solo trips; and breathability. 

thoughts?

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I would not refer to Frogg Toggs as "semi-durable". They are slightly better than disposable, but not by much. Tje material will catch on any twig or branch and shred rather easily.

Poncho vs Rain jacket + pants? My personal preference is the latter. I have found that doing almost everything with a poncho is miserable. The only thing it may be better at is squatting over a cat hole and even that is questionable. A poncho does make for a good emergency shelter. But a small tarp is better.

With jacket + pants, one can use one or both as needed. Being more snug to the body, you can do things while wearing them without them getting in the way. They also work great at keeping you warm. Almost too well. Backpacking with them will get you wet from sweat, but you will be warm. Breathable is generally a myth. As far as cost, like all things there is a continuum. Cheap, light, quality... pick two.

 

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Frogg Toggs are not good gear for Scouts, but could be for Adults. Youth will shred them. I use Frogg toggs for trips where the threat of rain is minimal. One should carry a sewing kit or a needle and floss to stick up the rips that will inevitably happen in frogg toggs. Or Duct tape. You'll likely need it with Frogg Toggs.

I mostly use just a rain coat. I find the sweat and extra heat from the rain pants is rarely worth it. If I was going on a trip with a lot of rain in the forecast I'd bring rain pants, but on most trips I leave them at home and have rarely regretted it. 

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9 minutes ago, Sentinel947 said:

I mostly use just a rain coat. I find the sweat and extra heat from the rain pants is rarely worth it. If I was going on a trip with a lot of rain in the forecast I'd bring rain pants, but on most trips I leave them at home and have rarely regretted it. 

Agree on the rain pants, rarely or never wear them

I have a Columbia rain jacket, cost maybe $50 - $60.  Has worn well.  Have some pants that I may have worn once, but it was rainy and cold and the wind was blowing.  Maybe it was also snowing and I had to hike uphill both ways.

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Being British with our 27 thousand words for rain or whatever it is I thought I'd throw in some comments....

First of all yes jacket and trousers rather than ponchos. Ponchos really are quite useless. Quite simply too many different ways for water to get inside. If you want something waterproof then make sure it is water proof. In practice I too rarely use waterproof trousers, they can be a bit too sweaty and awkward, they really only go on if the weather is utterly torrential.

I don't know what the brands are like your side of the Atlantic but here you can pretty much pay what you want for waterproofs. I always warn scouts and their parents that if you go too cheap you really will get something useless but unlike an adult what fits today may not fit in 6 months. Bit of a balancing act.

Taped seams. If it's going to leak that's where it will leak.

Adjustable cuffs. You lose a lot of heat from your wrists, keep them dry.

A hood that gives some face protection.

I also like bright colours. I've not had to have mountain rescue come and get me yet but should the day ever come I intend that they will be able to see me, hence my current one is BRIGHT RED!!

 

 

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Considerations:

I used to motorcycle in ALL weather.  Invested in a Helly Hansen rain suit, it was worth it for that consideration.  I can highly recommend their gear.   Buy big and baggy, you do not want close to the body. Leave room for sweat, ventilation, extra layers for warmth when needed. Also helps protect against "road rash".   Bright Yellow (only choice !). 

Poncho?   I hiked the Camino de Santiago some years ago and carried a rain jacket (make sure it reaches  BELOW your hips), which can be layered,  and a big, over the pack poncho, and a pack cover.  The rain jacket was good for sprinkles and showers but when I had to walk in serious rain, I covered my pack (keep the sleepbag dry !) and me.   The exertion of serious hiking in humid warm weather (even cool weather) produced condensation under the poncho, but I was mostly dry. 

Hat:   Broad brim (rain jacket hood under?)  or ball cap (rain jacket hood over ?)....

Bright colors !  One must LOOK for a poncho/rain jacket that is yellow, red, etc.  WHY do they want to sell us black, darkblue,  dark grey ?   

More concern should be for your boots.  Long pants will let the rain dribble outside of your boots.  Shorts and bare legs leads water INTO your boots.  Then, it matters not if your boots are Goretex or water proof...  Wear wool sox, stay comfy and warm even when wet.   Cotton sox just get gushy.   The  constantly wet foot  can lead to what the army calls "trench foot", you don't want that, even if it does take days/weeks  to develop.   

Gene Kelly, not withstanding,  you can sing in the rain.....

 

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  • 10 months later...

Rather than rain pants consider a rain kilt (or rain skirt depending on what you want to call it). Super quick to put on, no issue with boots.

Of course despite being British and very familiar with weeklong horizontal rain I now live in SoCal where it last rained seriously in like 1987, so don’t trust anything I say.

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My scout has shredded more than one set of Frogg Toggs, the upside to them is that they are relatively inexpensive, so not a big deal when they need to be replaced due to either being destroyed or out grown.  I will wait until he is a bit older and is not likely to out grow it too quickly to spend the money on a quality piece of gear.  The biggest downside of the cheaper version of Frogg Toggs in my mind is that wearing them in FL is just like wearing the rubber suit I wore 50 years ago as a high school wrestler trying to loose weight.  Sauna City! 

I did recently pick up a new ultra light rain jacket that Frogg Toggs makes for backpacking (only a couple of ounces, and seam taped) and have used it a couple of times.  I can say that it is much more comfortable than the cheaper version, and sheds water very well.  The more expensive Columbia jacket is great for basecamp wear, when every once counts (or when I want something that compresses well into one of the pockets on a Camelback) the Frogg Toggs ultra light is a good choice for adults.

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Posted (edited)

Here's the entry for rain gear in our Troop blog that we encourage new Scouts and parents to read and heed:

----------------------

Rain gear: Don’t get a poncho, please. Ponchos are nearly useless. The best rain gear for Scouting is a two piece rain suit. Buy a set a size too large, as your Scout may need to put on extra layers underneath to stay warm. Frogg Toggs makes a good entry level set for about $25. Please choose a subdued color. Bright colors aren’t really suitable for our adventures in the woods.

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As mentioned above, Frogg Toggs are somewhat fragile.  That's why we call them "entry level."  If a Scout really loves the program and wants to go for more challenging adventures, then we tell them to invest more in better gear.  REI, Columbia, HH, and any number of other purveyors of quality outdoor gear have suitable suits that will suit your needs :)

In warmer weather, and for backpacking, I use a lightweight REI shell.  ~$60, https://www.rei.com/product/177196/rei-co-op-groundbreaker-rain-jacket-20-mens

In cold weather, I use my military issued Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) (Gen III) wind jacket.  https://ciehub.info/References/peosoldier.army.mil/factsheets/SEQ_CIE_ECWCS.pdf  Don't really prefer this in warmer weather just due to the weight and warmth...

In all weather, I carry the ECWCS bottom, but rarely use it. https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Extended_Climate_Warfighter_Clothing_System  Primarily keeps rain and snow out of your boots as @SSScout and others mention.  I've seen lots of folks on the trail use gaiters for this purpose instead...

You can get these (in outdated camo patterns like Woodland) as surplus (or on EBay) at a very reasonable price. 

Enjoy!

P.S.  Color is a matter of Troop and personal preference.  Bright colors are helpful if lost/separated/etc.  Subdued colors are a LNT consideration, to blend in and not be visually obnoxious in the woods.  There are reversible models https://www.ganderoutdoors.com/blocker-outdoors-men’s-shield-series-evolve-reversible-parka-627600.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign={Campaign}&gclid=CjwKCAjwqIiFBhAHEiwANg9szorDbANobQBk_zt3emln-eNSnidymnDcb_ElK45-FhSrWVUAR0rzABoCxpoQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds  

But that is way down on my list of gear to procure and test ;)

We do have our Scouts purchase a reversible fleece hat, as we hit the woods during hunting season as well!! https://www.amazon.com/Equipment-Camouflage-Fleece-Reversible-Cuffed/dp/B07WVT6XBF/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=reversible%2Bblaze%2Borange%2Bfleece%2Bhat&qid=1553806549&s=sporting-goods&sr=1-9&th=1

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Rain gear: Don’t get a poncho, please. Ponchos are nearly useless. The best rain gear for Scouting is a two piece rain suit. Buy a set a size too large, as your Scout may need to put on extra layers underneath to stay warm. Frogg Toggs makes a good entry level set for about $25. Please choose a subdued color. Bright colors aren’t really suitable for our adventures in the woods.

-----------------------

Actually, I quite like (good) ponchos for hiking and backpacking.  For those two applications, I'd much rather have a good poncho than a rain jacket, but I'll admit a significant part of that is the fact that I've always been a sweaty guy and wearing a rain suit while being active doesn't actually keep me dry, it just means I'm soaked from sweat instead of rain.

One thing that can make a poncho MUCH more usable around camp is belting it around the waist to make it more of a tunic instead of a big bulky poncho.  I used to just use a nylon webbing strap off a duffle bag.

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I have never seen Scouts (youth) wear ponchos during outdoor activities and stay dry.  They (the Scouts and the ponchos) require a good deal of management to stay unsoaked.

And you still need something for lower legs and boots...

Ponchos do work great when sitting still, waiting for the rain to pass.  But, " a boy is not a sitting-down animal."

Your mileage may vary.

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On 5/14/2021 at 2:31 AM, UKScouterInCA said:

Rather than rain pants consider a rain kilt (or rain skirt depending on what you want to call it). Super quick to put on, no issue with boots.

Of course despite being British and very familiar with weeklong horizontal rain I now live in SoCal where it last rained seriously in like 1987, so don’t trust anything I say.

A friend did Philmont using a rain kilt.  he still swears by it.  None of the other folks on the trek were convinced.

We strongly recommend that new scouts/parents invest in a really good rain jacket --- Gore-Tex level, and to the extent cost is a concern we'd rather they first  invest in that and we'll find all the other equipment they need.  We recommend good pants if they can afford them.  We have loaners of pants for trips where we know either by forecast or activity that they're going to need them.

Nothing puts a new scout off camping like being cold and miserable on their first or second outing.  For our "Tenderfoot Weekend" which is the first that new crossovers participate in, we the leaders bring lots of extra jackets, hats, gloves, etc.  to make sure that no one has a bad time for lack of proper gear.   Usually one outing where their gear fails is enough to convince scout and parent to make the investment.

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Gore-Tex - breaths very little when dry and not at all when wet - a very expensive rain slicker.   Gore-Tex is still in the U.S. military inventory but was largely restricted to sedentary use above 19F as of seventeen years ago.

 

 

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Might as well use a plastic bag.  Below 25F, or 19F if active (activity creates more inside condensation),  the little holes freeze solid.   Still waterproof, but also breathing proof.    Perspiration is trapped inside and may even become ice - not the sort of "layer" the Layer System requires. 

"(c) Wear when the average temperature is above 19º F and alternating between freezing and thawing. You will determine the base and insulation layers necessary dependent upon temperature, wind and activity level."

United States Army Northern Warfare Training Center Cold Weather (CWLC, CWOC & CWIC) Student Handout Winter 2015-2016,  at p. 44. 

https://api.army.mil/e2/c/downloads/440625.pd

 

"When the temperature in the macroclimate is lower than the temperature in the microclimate, the tendency is for moisture to move away from the body, toward the outside of the clothing. The difference in temperatures tries to equalize, which pushes the water vapor outward. In the event of liquid perspiration, the wicking properties of the insulation layers performs that same task of constantly moving moisture towards the macroclimate. When humidity is the same inside and outside, water stays inside the system.

While Gore-Tex is still a component of the PCU system, its use is minimized to specific conditions in which there is significantly more moisture outside the system than inside the system. The Level 5 soft shell is a more crucial piece of the PCU because of the various conditions in which Gore-Tex fails to perform:

  • If the pores of the Gore-Tex fabric becomes saturated [think rain], moisture will fail to evaporate from the shell.
  • If the shell gets cold and moisture inside freezes, bonding the insulation layer to the shell, [or the moisture freezes in the tiny holes in the "breathable" membrane] this prohibits the movement of vapor and moisture towards the outside of the system.
  • If the user is not in motion and is losing heat, rather than generating heat, the rate of moisture transfer will lower, significantly reducing efficient transfer.

The Level 5 soft shell, in comparison, is water resistant, but by no means waterproof. It’s made, like all of the other parts of the PCU system, of hydrocarbon materials, aka “plastic,” which cannot absorb water. The soft shell is also windproof, creating significantly less of a barrier for vapor transmission than the Level 6 Gore-Tex shell and requiring less pressure to push moisture out into the atmosphere.

Combined with the other level garments, the goal is always to move the “dew point” away from the body and towards the macroclimate. The PCU system is a constantly self-drying soft-shell system, reinforced with hard shell components, which dries as quickly as possible when it gets wet."

https://www.itstactical.com/gearcom/apparel/comprehensive-guide-protective-combat-uniform/

 

Of course, if it works for you, it works for you.

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