Rain gear for the Alps?

While reading through older posts, I came across a few where people mentioned having to deal with rain every day. Our trip to Murren is June 1st for 7 nights. I was wondering about investing in rain pants from LLBean. Would rather be prepared to deal with rain and be able to at least be outdoors a bit, rather than stuck indoors. Has anyone invested in rain gear to that extent? Any recommendations? I remember dealing with several days of rain in Amsterdam. It was not fun walking around with damp/wet pants. We were fine on top. LLBean also has "waterproof" hiking shoes: Women's Bean's Waterproof Trail Model Hikers II, Low-Cut. Would these work? I don't want anything heavy, and would be mainly used for the one week in Murren and surrounding areas. We aren't going to do heavy duty hiking, but would like to take several hikes.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

My suggestion would be a water-resistant (not water proof) windbreaker, and flat out don't try to hike when it's raining, unless it's barely drizzling. Unlike encountering rain in the cities, where you can pop in and out of buildings, up in the Alps, you're exposed to wind and mud that has no counterpart on city streets. It's not so much a matter of keeping your feet dry as it is keeping your boots from becoming saturated with mud. It's good that you've planned several days in the region to give yourself some flexibility. But if rain is forecast for the entire day? Use that day for shopping in Interlaken or a daytrip to Bern or Thun.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

>> We aren't going to do heavy duty hiking, but would like to take several hikes Eli, heavy duty hiking probably means different things to different people, but I assume you mean you won't be going above the tree line, no traversing of scree slopes or scrambling over boulders, but rather on paths where you have reasonably safe footing most of the time. Those LL Bean boots don't have enough ankle support or adequate soles for the former, but look like they may be OK for the latter. You don't necessarily need to spend very much more if you are going to stray from mostly level paths. The last time I did any high level hiking in Switzerland I went up to around 2,900 metres (9,500 feet), crossed the Pas de Chevres and went down the ladders shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa6ugpVHgAs See the terrain? That is what I mean by heavy duty hiking, and I was just about OK wearing something like these Scarpa boots, but only because the weather conditions were perfect: http://www.scarpa.co.uk/trek/walking-trekking/ranger-2-gtx-activ/

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

We generally pack water resistant hooded rain jackets and sometimes rain pants. All lightweight and highly packable. REI has good products.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

I have first hand experience with the Bean rainwear you ask about . While we didn't bother with the pants , we did , as of our last trip , spring for the LL Bean stowaway rain jackets which are Gore Tex lined . Unlike regular rainwear that doesn't breathe , these jackets were really great ,In the rain they kept us perfectly dry and never caused us to sweat our brains out . At $ 180 per jacket , they evidently were not inexpensive , but they were worth every penny . If you buy them , get them sized larger than you need so they can be used with an under layer if necessary . Up at the Jungfrau at 22 degrees F and a fresh breeze ,we were very comfortable with a Bean fleece underneath . I can't say enough about the importance of the Gore Tex layer , it made all the difference. As far as shoes , The Merrell Moab GoreTex XCR model ; water proof, similarly breathable with a rugged Vibram sole was perfect on every terrain . Mid height would be more suitable for more aggressive terrain, but bear in mind what Tom and Kevin advise about that . They have far more experience than I do about things like the mud level and how much support is appropriate . Also , as Tom says , if it's really coming down , his suggestions would be a better choice .

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1970 posts

Thanks for this question Mme Eli. I just ordered the Merrell Moab mid height ventilated, thanks to Steve's info. Thanks Steve! This is what I've been looking for.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

Bets , I hope you like them . My brother brought them to my attention last fall before our trip to Italy and Switzerland . My wife and I each got a pair and loved them . Since then they have become my everyday shoe !

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Thanks everyone for the advice and recommendations. I'm looking into better shoes and rain wear. Glad my question was able to help someone else too :-) Last year we were not prepared for Copenhagen's colder days in May, though I had layered clothing, we needed at least one item that was thicker...even a wool blend. Then we went to Normandy, and they were having Mediterranean weather. That's where we got sunburnt! So hard to have everything.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Merrell makes great hiking and walking shoes, as well as sandals, etc. Always a good choice! For rain gear, I agree with Steven that what you want is waterproof/breathable, but GoreTex is no longer the only brand. I love my Patagonia H2No jacket, and have hiked in all-day rain comfortably (and stayed dry). But we do a lot of hiking and can justify the price of patagonia gear. For more casual use, you might look on Sierra Trading Post for closeouts, like this Marmot PreCip very lightweight jacket: http://www.sierratradingpost.com/marmot-precip-jacket-waterproof-for-women~p~2283c/?filterString=womens-rainwear~d~2338%2F&colorFamily=38 It is a great jacket for $74; lightweight, minimalist and very packable. Matching pants are $56, and you can usually get a discount code for another 20% off your order. I have the pants and carry them in my backpack when I commute by bicycle, in case of unexpected rain.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

MMe Eli ,Sorry about that . The manufacturers are always changing model numbers and styles , but here is the info on what Sue ( my wife ) ordered : Merrell # J87316 Moab mid Gore Tex ( women's model ) . Those will do the trick . EDIT online shoes.com or Zappo's or Merrell.com should have them !

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Lola, thanks for the tip. I will check into that. Steven, I ordered the shoes you mentioned for hubby, but I can't find a women's version online or in stores! Bets, were you successful?

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Steven & Bets, I was able to find them and ordered both heights to see which is more comfortable, plus different sizes as well. Thank goodness for free returns!! Saw that there was snow in Mirren yesterday! Yikes.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

I have a quick question, which my husband asked me and now I'm wondering. Why can't we use our NF triclimate jackets in the Alps? We used them in winter while we were in Brittany...cold, windy, rain, sleet. The temperatures still seem low there. I just can't imagine a thin, waterproof jacket being helpful.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

You certainly could use those jackets since they worked well for you in the past . The key to staying comfortable is layering . The Bean jacket , particularly when oversized , creates an air layer between you and the outside . Each additional layer you add increases the air trapping capability and will increase your warmth . The breathability of the Gore Tex worked for us in several ways ; when it wasn't very cold , but only wet ( Southern Italy ) that jacket alone ,was enough . Up at the Jungfrau , a fleece layer underneath was perfect. The ability to layer is key , so that you are not overdressed . It also allows you not to overpack , which , when traveling light is very important . Our last trip we were located in a variety of weather conditions ,and flexibility was paramount . Also , I might hazard a guess that based on when you will be in Murren , even though it's the Alps , you might find that the NF jackets might be somewhat overkill .

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Steven, that's what is stressing me. I don't want to overheat or freeze! We will be in Copenhagen on the 24th this month, then Murren on June 1st for a week. I keep looking at the WebCams and checking temps, and it's cold... We did remove the inner fleece and used the shell for warmer days. Will probably order and try out here to see how I feel about Patagonia vs the LL Bean you recommended. And yes, trying to stay away from overpacking. I have extra dietary needs, which means I have to take certain things with me because I've never seen them in certain places in Europe.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

Don't stress, I think you are over worrying about this . What you have sounds fine ,especially considering that you've used it successfully in the past . My view is ( within reason ) to go as light as I can ,and adapt ,as necessary on the fly . After all you're not leaving civilization behind on your trip . Above all , have a great time !!