Comparing Hiking Rain Gear

Comparing Hiking Rain GearNot all rain gear is the same. Most of it is made for a specific type of activity or weather sitatuion. Some heavy jackets offer rain protection and light insulation, while others are meant to be ultralight barriers to wear while hiking. The materials, waterproofing and design of these garments should give you an idea of the type of rain gear that will best meet your demands.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Check the materials. Most quality rain gear is made from treated nylon, but some heavier gear uses thick synthetics. Nylon is generally great for hiking because of its light weight and compactness. However, nylon has to be re-waterproofed periodically, and it may begin to leak in a heavy downpour. Heavier materials are more leak-proof in severe weather.
Step 2
Decide if you will need breathable materials, and look for material that offers a semi-permeable membrane. If you will be hiking in a wet climate or are planning on bad weather, breathable rain gear will allow your sweat to escape while shedding a moderate amount of rainwater. Solid, treated nylon rain gear often becomes soggy from condensation from sweat and body heat, but it may be a good choice if you are only expecting light or limited rainfall.
Step 3
Look over the design for important features. Rain pants should have zippered cuffs for easy removal over hiking boots. Jacket features should include drawstring waist and sleeve cuffs, hood and zippered pockets. Many designs include sections of unprotected mesh under the armpits or a back panel to allow extra ventilation during activity.
Step 4
Test the compressibility of the gear. Some gear comes with a stuff sack or compresses into a pocket. Other types do not compress well at all and could take up unnecessary weight and space in a pack. If your rain gear is an everyday garment in your climate, you may choose to sacrifice weight for comfort. If you only need the gear infrequently, or do not expect bad weather at all, choose gear that is lightweight and very compressible.
Step 5
Consider a soft shell for use in colder weather. Most gear made specifically for shedding rain does not breathe well and offers extremely little insulation. Even breathable rain gear often sacrifices sweat-wicking abilities in favor of waterproofing. If you expect high winds and low temperatures, look for soft shell gear that offers resistance to the elements as well as cold weather efficiency.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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