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Rainproof jacket

On past trips I've taken a Gortex jacket rolled up small and sometimes never needed it. But when I did need to use it, for example on one very wet day on a cycling holiday, I was so glad that besides keeping me dry it didn't blow around in the wind, as ponchos tend to. [I did have thin Gortex over-trousers on as well.} So Gortex is wind-proof and also keeps one warm not just on rainy days but also when just a day or two of a holiday is spent in the mountains at a much lower temperature than the rest of the trip.
In the trip that I'm planning, I have 2-3 days like that but could need something rain-proof at any time [but I'll not be cycling this time].

But Gortex is relatively heavy and bulky compared with the [no longer available] poncho linked to on the RS women's packing-list. I'm not at all sure I could fit it into the carry-on I'll be using, but it doesn't seem a good choice to wear or be carting around with me as the permitted "overcoat" on long-haul flights.

Any suggestions?

Posted by
484 posts

I bought a brand called Hi-Tec. It's a raincoat that folds up into it's own pocket. I bought it online at bargain outfitters.com. I had no problem with the product or the company. I've tried ponchos and found I much prefer the raincoat. There are multiple brands that make raincoats that foldup into a small pouch. My coat saw a lot of rain in Scotland and performed well.

Posted by
5837 posts

Outer garment selection is a lot simpler if you don't perspire, aren't concerned about durability, are just a walk around town tourist, and have a generous budget. For their rest, outer shell garment selection is an exercise in compromise.

REI's rainwear selection advice is a good overview of the decision factors:
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear.html

Main Considerations

Function: Will it keep me dry? When new, rainwear touted as
"waterproof" is rain-worthy. Over time, however, rainwear fabric
requires care to revive its water-shedding ability. (Such maintenance
is often overlooked.) What about soft shells? Most are
"water-resistant," meaning they can withstand light precipitation but
not a drenching rain.

Comfort: Will I swelter inside it? While waterproof/breathable fabric
technologies can make rainwear comfortable to wear during vigorous
activity, so can other factors: use of vents, individual metabolisms,
humidity, temperature, the clothing worn underneath rainwear, and
more.

Durability: Can it handle hard use? Face fabrics (nylon or polyester,
usually) come in different weights, or denier, a spec not always
provided by manufacturers. Though 70-denier (70D) is a common weight,
outerwear fabrics can range from 15D (wispy) to 450D (burly). Aim for
midweight (70D, often found in 3-layer designs) or higher if you like
to climb, scramble or bushwhack off-trail. Sticking to trails? Save
ounces by choosing a lightweight design.

Appearance: How do I look? Rainwear designed for the trail aims for
low weight, easy packability and pocket positioning that won't
interfere with backpack straps or a climbing harness. Rainwear for
travel or around-town use is styled with a fuller cut, more pockets
and less fussiness over weight.

Price: Why such disparity? High-end rainwear usually features a
waterproof/breathable laminate, meticulous seam-taping and exceptional
detailing, right down to tiny protective awnings over zipper heads.
Lower-cost rainwear is cut looser and often uses waterproof/breathable
coatings (generally less breathable than laminates). Still, coated
rainwear is quite adequate for moderate activities, and it's light and
easy to pack.

Tip: Use your past experiences to help you shop. Are you seeking
something more breathable? More durable? Lighter? Something exactly
the same? Consider the typical intensity level of your activities and
your personal metabolism, too.

Posted by
430 posts

Thanks Barb. I'll look out for Hi-Tec locally here in Melbourne.

And Edgar, that's a most useful check-list; weight and packability would probably be my main considerations. I can see that the shop I've identified for my carry-on backpack has a few light rain-wear options. As I'm not going until June, I think I'll have to restrain myself from checking them out - at least until the January sales! Do other people here start thinking in this much detail months ahead, once they have decided to try hand luggage only? For me it is such a mind-shift.

Posted by
5837 posts

Quality counts. I can't offer specific model personaslly tested advice because my Patagonia hard shell (Gortex laminate "breathable" waterproof) jacket is 15 years old and as good as new. While I don't use it for day to day winter use, its my "adventure" travel shell for hut to hut ski tours, UK walking holidays and winter travel. Its a light weight shell (similar current Patagonia jackets are about 13 oz), with hood, pit zip vents etc.

Posted by
14249 posts

I've been very happy with my Marmot Precip jacket, wish it was slightly longer though. It does fold up small enough that I can put it in my purse which was my basic criterion for a waterproof shell. It is several years old and the newer ones are not as crinkly. I also wish it had a 2-way zipper altho it does have armpit zips which is helpful.

editing to add: BTW after reading Edgar's comment I will tell you I used the Marmot Precip over a polarfleece vest and wool sweater for snow shoveling last winter. It was not a big winter for my location so it worked fine. It would not have worked if it had been below, say, mid-20s F and windy. It also worked well for some drenching rains in Italy and Austria this last Sept. In June I also zipped myself into it, pulled up the hood and cinched it around my face and it repelled mosquitoes in 80F weather in Yellowstone!

Posted by
430 posts

Thanks, Pam. I've found one Australian stockist for that jacket but unfortunately not in my city. I'd need to check their return policy if I did order it without being able to try it on. When you say newer ones aren't as crinkly as they used to be: is that good or bad? I wouldn't want it to be crackly but does crinkliness make it easier or less easy to squash into the pouch?

Posted by
2081 posts

cgichard,

I head on over to our local REI and see what they have and pick the sales people brains on whats what. Gortex is great as long as you take care of it. But i found an REI brand rain jacket that folds (packs) into its own pocket. What i like is that it has pit zips and has a built in hood. The pit zips helps keep you from getting drenched in your own sweat. But Im going to look for one that has more "breathability" and see what comes up. The built in hood is large enough to go over a helmet also.

If you have any sporting/travel/camping/hiking stores in your area, i would hit them up and see what they can offer.

just an for your info, i always bring/have a rain jacket on my travels. The one i mentioned above i had brought with me for 2+ trips and never used it until this past Sept. Its always stored in my luggage so i dont have to worry about making sure its there.

good luck & happy trails.

Posted by
430 posts

Pam: I would never have thought of using a rain jacket for mosquito protection - great idea!

Ray, I don't think we have REI here in Melbourne, but thee are several bushwaking shops within easy distance of each other. It will take some comparsosn shopping to find out which have knowledgeable staff.

Posted by
4132 posts

Technical clothing!

Gore-tex is great stuff, waterproof and breathable, but it is on the heavy side because it uses 3 layers of fabric.

I prefer a lighter-weight alternative that uses only 2 layers. The precip is one such, but there are others. REI makes a good one that is sometimes on sale. (Sometimes called "2.4 layers" for marketing purposes.) Gore-tex makes a similar product ("Gor-Tex active") but Ive never seen it.

These are not as sturdy as the 3 layer but pack smaller and are lightweight. It gives you more options for layering. You can use it as a wind shell. I find mine highly useful.

Posted by
13 posts

I bought a Helly Hansen brand, completely waterproof and breathable, well made, sealed, placket over the zipper, the whole bit. Kept me dry as a bone in Ireland last month. I'm a woman and liked the trench coat styling, with a belt, of the one I purchased.

A friend in southern Alaska, where it rains more than in Ireland, highly recommended it. When I bought mine from REI, I came home and poured water on the sleeve to test the waterproof-ness before committing it to travel. This is now the only one I'll be using. Doesn't come with a little sack to shove it in, but I don't use those anyway.

Posted by
16890 posts

Like Edgar I am a believer in Patagonia jackets. Very high quality and durable. My traveling companions ( my husband, my sister, and her husband) all bought this jacket on my recommendation, and they love it:

http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/womens-torrentshell-waterproof-rain-jacket?p=83806-0

The women's jacket weighs in at 11 ounces and packs very small. (I roll mine up rather than folding it). Mine is black and doubles as my city jacket for cool evenings. On our most recent trip it also kept me dry and comfortable through several days of walking in rainy Wales.

There is a Patagonia store in Melbourne at 485 Chapel Street, South Yarra. We will be in Melbourne in January---maybe I should go by and see how their prices compare to the US. I usually buy my Patagonia clothing on the "web specials" section of their website, but I could not access the Patagonia.com.au website to see if they have one too.

Posted by
684 posts

For traveling I use an Outdoor Research "Helium II" jacket. It is just a shell, so for warmth I wear a long undie top or down vest, or both, under it when necessary. It's on the expensive side at $150 (USA), but it packs up to nothing, only weighs 6 oz., and does the job keeping the rain and wind out. I have had it less than a year so the jury is still out on durability, but so far it still looks and functions like it did when it was new.

Posted by
8637 posts

cgichard, it is hard for us North Americans to know what brands are available in Australia. I have used several different brands - Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, Sierra Design, REI, North Face, Columbia, and JC Penney -and its really just a matter of how much you want to spend. They get lost borrowed, ripped, or melted, and then replaced. I currently have the Marmot Precip and like it fine. Just get whatever you find big enough to fit over layers if needed.

Posted by
14249 posts

cgichard - What I meant by crinkly is it is a bit noisy when you move. Not nearly as bad as waterproof jackets of say 5 years ago, but the newer styles to mine (which is 1.5 years old) are even quieter. I, too, have looked at the Patagonia, North Face, REI brand and a number of others. The newest generation of the lighter waterproof jackets also have a softer feel to them. The Marmot has one pocket (left one) that you can use for a pouch, however, I hate to jam it into the pocket so I just use a gallon ziplock bag and leave it in my purse. That way I can also put it in my purse when it is wet.

I originally bought the Marmot after a RS Heart of Italy tour in May 2013. It poured in Florence, I mean really poured, and the guide had an earlier generation of Marmot. I was so impressed with it I got one when I got home. Funnily enough we had this same guide for Village Italy this October and yes, she has the same jacket.

I was desperate with the mosquitoes. I was sitting waiting for a geyser that I love to erupt and they were all over me. I do not know why I did not pack bug dope as it is on my Yellowstone packing list altho they were in my hair and I would not have put bug spray there!

As someone says above be sure to size your layer so you can wear layers under it.

Posted by
7450 posts

Hi, I bought the Columbia Women's Arcadia II Jacket through Amazon.com this summer when the forecast for Switzerland was looking like a couple of cold, rainy days. The coat comes in many colors. I pack very light, and this coat didn't add bulk in my suitcase. I did bring a very thin thermal top, also, to layer for the cold days in Switzerland - then the coat alone was fine for a drizzly day in Italy.

This coat doesn't have the crinkly noise that I don't like, either.

Posted by
430 posts

Many thanks to all for the additional ideas. It sounds as though I should be able to find something suitable locally without a problem - and useful to be reminded that it needs to be tried on over multiple layers in case the time in the mountains does turn out to be very cold. I'm planning to wait for our January sales - but that's just when weather here is likely to be at its hottest!
Lola: I couldn't get through to the Patagonia.com.au website either; it seems to be 'down' though their Facebook page is current.

Posted by
715 posts

I have the Patagonia Torrential jacket and it is perfect for packing light. For me it is the perfect rain coat for that purpose. However, it is a back-packing rain jacket so it is quite short. If you were outside in the rain for a long time you thighs will get quite wet, then again, you will with most jackets.

Posted by
5837 posts

Re: ...it is a back-packing rain jacket so it is quite short. If you were outside in the rain for a long time you thighs will get quite wet....

If you need to be outside in the rain for a long time (esp heavy rain combined with wind) consider rain pants. Knee length jackets may keep your thighs drier but your legs will still get wet from knee down. And the jacket would need to be cut with a looser fit so that you can walk. If you buy rain pants, the decision is full zip vs ankle zips in that full zip pants are heavier and have extra leakage points. And even with rain panted and ankle gaiters my socks still get soaked in heavy downpours.

Posted by
430 posts

Edgar - I do already have waterproof trousers and they roll up quite small but probably not worth the extra room/weight as there are only a few days country walking in my 5 weeks and it will be June-July so good chances of the lower half drying off fairly quickly; if cold I would have merino leggings underneath.

Posted by
4592 posts

I bought but did not use a "packable" trench coat from Travelsmith. It did in fact fold up into a package about the size of a hardcover book. Luckily it was not needed so it lived in a corner of my suitcase.

Do you have Amazon down under? That's where we all shop here now, and for clothing they often offer free returns.

Posted by
430 posts

No, no Australian Amazon and return parcel postage could easily cost more than the goods. I bought a book from Amazon US that had a page fault and when I told them how much it would cost to return it, they told me just to keep it, and gave me a choice of replacement or refund.

Posted by
14249 posts

The Helly looks like a great coat. I think all those big companies change something year to year.

Posted by
1081 posts

I have found that the Marmot Pre-cip jackets are excellent and water proof not resistant, they make a light weight jacket called "Mica" that I love to use because it packs so small but is totally waterproof.