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Testing old rain jackets

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Testing old rain jackets

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:46 pm

I have accumulated five very expensive rain jackets and am reluctant to toss them out. They are still useful for town and car camping simply as a wind layer or in misty, foggy conditions on the coast.

Today, I wore each in the shower and got soaked inside within 5 minutes. Is this a valid test? I know a shower puts out more pressure than a rainstorm. Perhaps sitting under the sprinklers would be a better test. But last year, my Marmot Precip got soaked in 15 minutes in a severe storm so I know that it does not work in "real" conditions.

I have tried all the "refurbishing" agents that are supposed to revive an old "waterproof-breathable" jacket and none worked.

So now I have two rain jackets that work- a cheap coated nylon Sierra Designs (15 oz) and a "waterproof-breathable" Montbell (12.5 oz). The Montbell is new as of last year and worked well in a prolonged storm last August. I hesitate to take it in the Sierra when the weather report is zero chance of rain, because I would think all the stuffing it and crinkling it may add wear to the material. I just cannot see carrying the heavier Sierra Designs. Does anyone simply go without raingear when there is a zero percent chance rain?

One solution is to spend another $150-$300 on a 4-6 oz UL rain jacket.

Another solution?



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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:53 pm

Pancho is all I take in the Summer, may include pants (waterproof breathable) if the weather looks iffy. It can also be used as a shelter for cooking once in camp during rain, do not use it as my primary shelter anymore because of my photo gear.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:57 pm

I've had jackets that lost their ability to repel water pretty quickly. It's frustrating, definitely. I spent a few hundred dollars on unsatisfactory jackets. Then I bought a Marmot triple Gortex jacket about 20 years ago (!) and it's still my go-to jacket if I don't want to get wet. It's heavy, though. I've re-coated it with the water-repellant spray several times , which has worked well. I don't take it any longer on backpacks because of the weight, though it's not really heavy, just heavy in terms of the jackets that are offered now. I use a lightweight Patagonia jacket (at least 5 years old). That's worked well with re-coating.

I always take a rain jacket in the Sierra, even if the forecast doesn't call for rain. That's one item that I feel I don't want to be without if a thunderstorm unexpectedly arises. Though I've hiked with others who've stood under a tree to wait out a storm and been fine. My Patagonia jacket is so light, though, that it's no big deal to bring it along. I've seen a couple of close calls with hypothermia.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby rlown » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:15 pm

amazing how we seem to expect these light-weight things to last. I have a '91 "Bud Grant" Cabelas jacket with hood. Full on early Gore-tex version with a lot of thinsulate stuffing. She weighs 3 lbs. In 24 years of service hiking to and sitting in duck blinds in storms, she's never leaked. I don't carry the Bud on my trips unless I think it's going to be really nasty and the 3 lbs are worth it.

My precip jacket hasn't let me down in the storms, as I like to fish even if it's raining. that's why I go there. I do have an old pair of REI rain pants that I carry if i think necessary.

I haven't tried the shower thing. That seems like overkill. If that was a normal storm, ok; but it's not. I would be more concerned about leaks under pack strap pressure, which probably will happen with anything (except the bud grant!)

Guess I agree with Mav on the pancho approach for summertime pursuits.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby maverick » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:43 pm

For Sierra use, during the Summer, there is really no need for a full gore outfit, we just don't get the consistent rain like the PNW, or the violent, heavy downpours the Rockies gets. The only time we may get something substantial, is when a hurricane makes landfall in Texas or Mexico (or Pacific ocean near Baja), and gets pulled into a monsoonal flow, up into the Sierra, and that combo can cause heavy downpours and flash flooding, but this occurrence is quite rare.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby freestone » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:46 pm

I had good luck with an umbrella 2 years ago during a late season monsoon. Then last year the same umbrella was useful as a wind break at the head end of my tarp. All my jacket pack weight is for staying warm, not dry during a shower.
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Testing old rain jackets

Postby gabe&mel » Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:56 pm

rlown wrote:amazing how we seem to expect these light-weight things to last.


I agree. I bought a Marmot Mica, a 2.5 Layer, 6.5 oz rain jacket a few years ago. It did not last for a full season. I always packed it because It was so lightweight, but when it rained it was less than useless. I tried using the wash-in stuff to revive the waterproofness to no avail. By chance I looked on the inside of the jacket, at the inner "membrane" and was quite surprised to find that it had delaminated at all of the stress points and adjacent to the seam taping. Marmot had considered this wear and tear for a season and did not think it was an issue of quality.... So I now use a Outdoor Research Goretex Foray Jacket that has served me well for the last couple of years. Not nearly as light (15 oz), but serves its purpose and they have a warranty that I can rely on.

Most of the lightest rain jackets (4-6 oz) use the 2.5 Layer membrane lamination. In my humble opinion I would inspect the inside and outside of these ultra lightweight jackets prior to any trip that you bring it on as @rlown has alluded to, they aren't built to last. A painfully cold lesson learned while hiking the Wonderland Trail in September Downpour.

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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby Tom_H » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:50 am

Gosh I miss my old Paul Petzoldt Wilderness Equipment rain parka. We used to get daily afternoon cool showers in Uncompaghre. I could fully pull my legs up to my chest underneath that thing. Almost like a miniature tent. Of course back then weight didn't seem as big of a deal as it does now in old age.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby sparky » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:00 am

I am with you guys, I also bought a precipt and I got soaked in its first storm....in April...it was f-in cold!

I am back to a cheap poncho. Thinking of spending $$ on a nice one from six moon designs.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby JWreno » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:43 pm

Our lightweight REI membrane jackets are about 8 years old. My wife had hers on in a heavy thunderstorm a few weeks ago while astronomy car camping. She said she got soaked. I know the jackets worked well in 2008 when we got stormed on every day for about 8 days while doing the JMT. Haven't be really tested in a heavy downpour on a backpacking trip since. We mostly enjoyed them in the evening over our thermal tops for added warmth and bug protection. I guess it's time to pick up some new jackets. Looking for replacement jackets that are under 1 pound.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby longri » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:57 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Is this a valid test?

I'm not sure. Was it a cold shower? Did you try it with a new jacket for comparison?

It's not always easy to separate the effects of leakage from perspiration/condensation. One approach would be to subject the jacket to the shower without you in it. Put something inside the jacket that will show signs of water and then after taking it out of the shower dry the exterior before opening up the jacket to examine it.

I find that the effectiveness a jacket has for keeping me dry takes a big step down when the DWR wears off. But the moisture is coming from me, not because the membrane is leaking.
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Re: Testing old rain jackets

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Aug 06, 2015 10:50 am

There is little moisture coming from me standing still for 5 minutes in a shower. The water was luke-warm. My jacket definitely leaked buckets of water! Maybe standing under a yard sprinkler would be a better test. What I wondered about validity is related to the water pressure. "Waterproof" fabrics have a limit on pressure/force of the rain. I think the duration of rain is also a factor. It seems to me that some materials eventually soak through if out in a steady rain all day.
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