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What rain gear to wear

We will be travelling by car the last week in August for 10 days. Driving from Glasgow, Lock Lomand, Oban, 1 day Mull, Ft. William, St. Andrew, then 3 days Edinburgh & 2 days Glasgow (no car in the cities). We will be taking a
few short walks (1-2 miles/1.6-3.2km). Do we need waterproof raincoat, waterproof shores and quick drying hiking pants or will jeans, chinos and rain-resistant coat suffice? James

Posted by
12151 posts

Ponchos are bulky, unattractive, and useless in the wind ( just my opinion). I believe everyone who travels needs a good lightweight rain jacket. It can be an inexpensive coated nylon non- breathable one is you aren’t going to be hiking or walking for long distances, but a much better investment would be a good breathable one like Marmot PreCip or Patagonia Torrentshell you could find on sale.

Posted by
3523 posts

I think the most important thing is waterproof shoes or boots, preferably lace up over the ankle and with non-slip soles. I hit signigicant cool temperatures and blowing rain in the UK in May and early June of 2016. Most of it was in Scotland. It may be better weather when you are there, or not. I didn't take a lightweight fleece for layering and I should have.

Even if your hikes are not long, you're likely to experience mud, mud puddles and wet grass on them and elsewhere. And don't forget that there can be puddling and there will be very slippery cobblestones and pavement in the cities. Edinburgh Castle is a prime location for that due to the steep slopes inside the walls.

I wore quick-dry pants similar to these, with long underwear similar to these under them if it was cold. I wore a 3/4 length raincoat similar to this one. And I wore very lightweight water resistant hiking boots like these all the time everywhere. My go to socks are these to help keep my feet dry and warm and to improve circulation.

Obviously, these are all women's clothes, but adapting the concepts for men is a good idea, I think.

Posted by
4696 posts

In many places in the U.K., it’s shaping up to be the wettest August on record and we aren’t even at the midpoint of the month yet!

Today, it’s been cloudy all day, 15 degrees (should be 22 average) and this afternoon, the rain has been bouncing. I cancelled my plans for this afternoon as I didn’t want to get wet, no matter what clothes I wore.

Jeans are the worst thing to wear if it’s wet. You need waterproof shoes and a waterproof coat with a hood. Scotland temperatures are usually colder than England.

Posted by
4670 posts

I take a Gore-tex shell parka, with a hood, on every Europe trip. I'd certainly take something like that to Scotland any time of year. Sometimes I never use it but usually I do. It goes down to the knees, but something like that may be hard to find now (are you listening, L.L. Bean?).

Sturdy shoes like Lo recommends would also be a good idea. You could wear them on the flight and when moving locations so they wouldn't have to take room in the luggage. I get away with Rockports but I don't get out on trails much any more. If you do, mud may well be a problem. Jeans are my daily wear at home but not for travel because they take forever to dry. Chinos or lighter weight pants would be a better bet.

Posted by
8218 posts

I agree with the recommendations for a waterproof jacket with a hood. I had lots of wind and rain on my Best of Scotland trip last summer. Ponchos are less than useless under those conditions as are umbrellas. If you don’t have waterproof shoes, I’d at least have 2 pr of shoes so you can alternate is one gets drenched.

If you do have to dry out wet shoes, take out the insole, unlace or open them up as much as possible and if your lodging has the heated towel rail in the bathroom put them on the floor underneath them.

Scotland was the only time on a Rick Steves tour that I wished for waterproof pants. We were not hiking, just trying to see the highlights of Iona and Oban!

Posted by
18766 posts

I have been pleased with the way my 97% nylon / 3% spandex pants handle rain. They are not waterproof, but most of the rain runs off of them, and they dry pretty fast. When I expect the weather to be chilly, I wear a pair of long johns underneath. Those, in combination with the nylon pants, basically kept my legs dry on rainy days in four countries this year.

Mympants are PrAnas, but there are other manufacturers using a similar blend, including Columbia. I'm not sure the Columbia products are as wrinkle-resistant as the more expensive PrAnas, though.

Posted by
12151 posts

Lo, thanks for the link to that Eddie Bauer rain jacket. I can use something like that for a late fall trip to Japan, with lots of walking but city time too, and a trip next March to Italy. Turns out the dark red (“my” color) is on sale, and right now there is an extra 40% off the entire site (including sale items). So I got the jacket for $83!

Posted by
8218 posts

Sorry to post again, but I got interrupted before I finished my post, lol. (Why is the dental hygienist early when you're busy posting vital information? lol!!)

"I believe everyone who travels needs a good lightweight rain jacket."

I SO agree with Lola's comment. The first time I went to Europe (RS tour) I wasn't sure I'd need a rain jacket for May in Italy but threw one in at the last minute. It was completely necessary in an absolute downpour in Florence. Umbrellas didn't do it. It was also blowing so as usual ponchos were useless. You don't want to miss valuable vacation time if there is rain so I generally sightsee thru it (unless there is lightning). I learned then the truth of Lola's statement. I swapped that one out for one that packed better and is lighter and I always take it with me. Every single time. I might not need it but I have it. I can count on one hand the times I've NOT needed it, so you might as well invest in something that will be good for travel.

I went with the Marmot Precip back then but later decided it is cut too slim to layer things under or to be able to zip up a small cross body bag if it is really raining so have moved to a different waterproof jacket. I've worn my current one so much I've had to reapply the waterproof stuff to it so this is probably the last season but I've gotten my money's worth out of it.

You may not have time to purchase one before you go but do keep it in mind when you get back. If you live where there is an REI or other nice outdoor store, go in an feel the fabric of a couple of different brands. For myself the older Marmot was too crinkly sounding if that makes sense. However fabrics improve every year so they are softer and nicer now.

Posted by
1041 posts

You need waterproof shoes and a waterproof coat with a hood

I so much agree!

Two comments:

  1. If you are primarily in towns and cities and don't want to invest in new shoes, then at least take a plastic bag with dry socks, so you can change if they get wet.
  2. Add a (baseball) cap. A hood is much more convenient, when the cap keeps it from falling over your eyes.