Traveling to South of France, Italy and Spain in late July and August. Do I need a lightweight rain jacket??
Yes, you always need a rain jacket at any time of year when traveling in Europe.
I would skip the jacket and just bring an umbrella, so I guess it's just a preference. You have to be prepared for rain. It just depends on how you want to deal with it.
An uninsulated rain jacket is also a wind jacket.
Not having a rain jacket anywhere in the world is verging on lunacy (ex: the annual rainfall differential between London and the Sahara is eight inches).
Ahh, I never use a rain jacket at home. Don't live in the dessert. Not a lunatic. I just don't like rain jackets. I will take them on a trip to Europe if it's spring or fall. Summer, no. I'll use an umbrella and deal with a little wet. All in what you prefer.
A rain jacket is a necessity in my world, along with an umbrella. I HATE getting rained on, and hate worrying about wet shirts and wet hair. Umbrellas are great, but water still splashes in, and sometimes you need to be hands free. A rain jacket with a hood is pretty much essential. I can't imagine not having some sort of water-resistant outerwear unless I lived in the desert. I have 3 and take whichever one fits the general itinerary and temperature:
-a northface shell - warmer weather, outdoor activities and casual. http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/women-39-s-venture-jacket_2.html?variationId=M0U&variationName=HIGH%20RISE%20GREY%20EYELET
-a london fog light trench - a little dressier, for cities. It's not quite as waterproof as the north face, but works fine in cities, and at home, where I'm in and out of indoor sites and trains/cars http://www.londonfog.com/Womens-Spring-Collection/London-Fog-Mila-Lightweight-Raincoat-with-Detachable-Hood.asp
-a winter, waterproof jacket. Obviously for cold weather. It's long (knee length) for warmth.
I like to bring my packable rain jacket. I have gotten them from Lands End and LLBean. I have also used my rain jacket as: a clean place to sit; a picnic blanket; a jacket to keep me warm on a cool night; and a way to keep dry on water rides my kids wanted to go on in amusement parks. Much more versatile and easier to carry than an umbrella.
I usually don't bring or wear at home a raincoat or windbreaker. I'll use an umbrella when necessary. That being said, if I were hiking through the dales or elsewhere, I would bring one. So it depends on your preference and what you will be doing. I tend to dress in business casual so a windbreaker jacket doesn't appeal to me.
Into each life some rain.... The Ink Spots - Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall: http://youtu.be/ayGkA-vxrMc
Some hotels have loaner umbrellas but I would only use an umbrella as a rain protection supplement. I use to work in the windy city (Frisco) where the downtown streets between the high rise office buildings are wind tunnels. I'd see a lot of inverted umbellas in the sidewalk trash containers.
The other downside of an umbrella in France, Spain and Italy can be found reading the forum pages about pickpockets and Roma. Its a bit harder to reach for your wallet in a crowded environment when you are struggling with your umbrella. On the other hand, having my raincoat on is another layer of protection over my front pocket with my wallet and my neck pouch holding critical documents and excess cash.
Now all that said, you should check the climatic data for places you are visiting and decide if you want to gamble on getting wet and the consequences of unexpected precipitation. If you are basically an urban tourist, hop into a church or museum or stop for an coffee if unexpected showers fall. On the other hand, if you are trekking the Alps, its a different set of consequences. Are you willing to roll the dice?
I always bring a rain jacket. Why let rain come between me and travel?
There are plenty of excellent waterproof light weight packable coats out there. I go for unlined jackets and add a fleece or sweater underneath if it gets cooler out. A packable jacket weighs less than 1 lb and rolls up very small - 10" long by 3" diameter. It easily stuffs into your purse or day bag.
Btw, There are lots of beautiful rain jackets out there: REI Kyoto, North Face Stella Grace, Marmot Elan, North Face K, Columbia Pardon my Trench. They are all very light and look great. In fact, I tried on the REI Kyoto today and was very tempted to buy it even though I have 2 other packable jackets at home! The red is gorgeous and the cut extremely flattering. All of the jackets listed above are manufactured by mountaineering companies, so they understand waterproof.
Looked up that REI Kyoto jacket. It's a beauty. Most sizes are on back order, so if I found one my size, I'd grab it. No I don't work for REI, am not a member, and the closest store is two hours away.
Hi Jena, I have a couple of jackets that are water-resistant/water-proof from LLBean, Lands End, and Eddie Baur. I always take a jacket on vacation and these work well for a cool evening even when it's not raining. I don't take an umbrella but have had to purchase one a few times when caught in a rain storm.
Thank you for all the replies! Still not sure which way to go but now I have something to think about!!
Anorher thing to think about is whether it's important to have one or both hands free.
I tend to go the raincoat route because it's easy enough to just keep a wet one on until it air dries, while there is often something of a question of what you're supposed to do with a wet umbrella once you get inside a building if there is no provided plastic baggie for it at the door.
To quote Dirty Harry,
"do you feel lucky?"
i just went to my favorite outdoor store and got a pocket sized rain/wind jacket with hood. It doent take that much room and it will pack into its own pocket. I usually squirrel it in my backpack/bag so its always with me on my travels. So far i havent had to use it since my heavier water proof jacket was better suited to the temperature.
worse case, if you decide to do without, you will just have to buy one on your travels if you need it and consider it an impromptu souvenir.
You can get by with an umbrella in these places that time of year.
That said, I always bring a super-light breathable waterproof rain shell because it is broadly useful as a wind barrier and, in the cool of evening, jacket with pockets. These are technical jackets and won't win any fashion shows but if you pick a dark color these can blend in pretty well. The run about $100 and pack small.
So, up to you.
It WILL rain.
YES; just make sure you get waterproof rather than water resistant. I just bought a great belted trench coat @ REI (style La Selva) , grey "porpoise" in their description. It has nice seaming in the back, zippered front pockets, 1 interior zip pocket and a zip-off hood. I washed it per directions and it came out of the dryer looking fine.
Clothing vendors use the term "waterproof" loosely. For a more detailed discussion of "waterproof" than needed by the casual tourist go to: http://www.evo.com/waterproof-ratings-and-breathability-guide.aspx
Note that the evo.com page on truly waterproof reads in part:
"Why isn’t outerwear completely waterproof? The truth is that all outerwear designed for active winter sports has various degrees of water resistance, but will eventually leak given enough water, time and pressure. Manufacturers define “waterproof” according to different standards, and testing is not standardized. A rubber raincoat is completely waterproof, and may be the ideal garment for standing in a downpour waiting for the bus, but if you tried to ski or snowboard in it, you’d be wet in no time from your own perspiration. The trick is to balance protection from rain and snow on the outside with the ability to let water vapor (warm perspiration) escape from the inside."
Glad to have some suggestions for rain apparel. Scotland in August? Rainy? I read that we do truly need rain gear. I have windbreaker, but not really waterproof....also read no umbrellas at the Tattoo, which is a GOOD thing, but should be prepared for rain.
I travel with the RS Hide-Away Poncho for the rain and I LOVE it. It weighs only 10 ounces and after it dries I roll it up and put it back in its small lightweight pouch that stays attached to the inside center of the Poncho. The pouch is so compact that it packs in between the cracks and adds little weight to luggage.
The Poncho is made of a sturdy material that won't fly away or cling. It hangs long and keeps rain away from shoes. It has a beautiful big hood that fits well and won't fall off. The hood is made of the same sturdy fabric as the poncho. It has a Bill in the front that keeps rain away from the face.
I keep the RS Poncho in my carry-on bag for fast access. It is so roomy that It covers me and my luggage. The Poncho protected me and my luggage when I got stranded at the edge of Castro dei Volsci on my way to Amaseno last October.
I did have an umbrella with me, but the Poncho was needed in that situation and it worked like a charm.
I found one at Gander Mountain on sale for $29 and it folds up into a little pouch. Happy.
I would have posted exactly what Lisa did. RS sells rain ponchos/jackets in his online store elsewhere on this web site but my wife got us ones for LLBean and/or Lands End. We use these 98% of the time needed and only use an umbrella maybe 2% of the time. We find the wind often accompanies the rain making it difficult to use umbrellas that we got from RS store. I carry a RS day bag every day in my travels where ever I happen to be and that compact rain jacket is always in the bottom of my bag even when living in Hawaii 7 months of the year as we do get rain there often.
Patagonia rain gear!! Lightweight, wind resistant. Easy to pack.
Problem with Patagonia gear is that their stuff is so durable and functional that its hard to justify newer versions that are only incrementally improved. I guess that's the reason Patagonia keeps changing colors (or at least changing the names of their colors) hoping to shame me into buying something newer than my decade plus old jacket. So far its not working and I'm still using my old Patagonia.
For something entirely different, take a look at the Travel Smith Packable Reversible Accordion-Hood Coat. I got the longer one in peacock/navy.
I have a couple of sportier rain jackets, but I wanted something a little "nicer" and a little longer with a substantial hood. I hate umbrellas. I also wanted something that I could wear as a light jacket in the evening that would look right with nice pants or a skirt.
I based the decision on the reviews for the short version now on clearance. There are no reviews for the longer version at present.
I also compared the price to those for good quality rain jackets and it was the same or cheaper.
I must say that when I got the coat it was on sale, so I didn't pay anything close to the current price.
I also sized down due to the reviews and it fits perfectly. I washed it and it came out great. Now I'm waiting for a chance to wear it. Too hot and dry in AZ for that right now!
Considering where and when you are traveling you could skip the rain jacket but it might be wise to have a collapsible umbrella with you. Especially if you confine yourself strictly to urban areas where you can easily duck into a café or other sheltered space to wait out a brief shower. I myself spend lots of time in the countryside areas of Germany and have to contend with all types of weather conditions. I arm myself with quality gore tex clothing from head to foot plus a waterproof backpack cover. And I also have a collapsible umbrella which I use as a first line of defense. I hiked a four day portion of a Black Forest trail and it rained almost the whole time and I came through it dry and happy with my good planning.