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RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

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RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby Hetchy » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:10 pm

What was Tested:
Marmot Precip Jacket 14 oz (dry) Factory Sealed Condition: New $140.00
Outdoor Products Backpackers Poncho (long Cut fit over pack as well) 11 oz(dry) Seam Sealed with Kenyon 3 Condition: New $39.00
Shedrain Umbrella 10 oz(dry) Factory sealed Condition: New $25.00

Where tested: .7 mile loop in the Santa Cruz Mountains elev 1500 feet Redwood forest
total elevation gain and loss 500 per loop.
Conditions: 46 degrees F Raining .1 to .25 inch per hour Winds calm to 3 mph
Average Hiking speed: 2.7 mph nonstop(GPS estimate)
Total mileage for EACH test 5.6 miles(8 loops) 4000' elevation gain and loss total
Pack and load carried: Golite Pinnacle loaded. Total weight 28 lbs.
Clothing worn(same for each test): Mesh baseball cap w/ nylon bill, Nylon short sleeved shirt, nylon swim trunks, smartwool midweight socks, New Balance 570 running shoes.
Tester: 39.75 yr Male height 5'7" weight 165 lbs
Metabolism.. extremely high(I sweat alot while active)
(The Jacket and Poncho were tested on the same day with a drying out period between. The umbrella was tested a week before under the same temperature but slightly heavier rain conditions.)

Marmot Precip Jacket: Worn under the pack straps with the hood up and baseball cap on(the bill of the cap holds the hood open). I began the first loop with the main zipper open to just below the sternum strap of the pack and pit zips closed. After the first lap .7 miles I was dry but beginning to get to the point of sweating so pit zips were opened half way. The second lap 1.4 miles sweating now, the pit zips were opened completely and front zip opened as far as possible without admitting rain. By loop 5 or 3.5 miles I noticed my shoulders were wet and the sleeves of the jacket were wet inside from the elbow down. By lap 7 or 4.9 miles The entire inside of the shell was wet withthe exception of the middle of my back below the shoulders which was bone dry. After the final lap I returned to the ranchhouse and stood directly under the downspout of the gutter for ten minutes(all zips closed) to simulate a trail rest stop in a torential down pour. The result I was as soaked as If I had worn no jacket and the pack was completely wetted out (though the contents were nice and dry due to being encased in a garbage bag) After shaking the jacket weighed in at a whopping 23 oz.

Outdoor Products Backpacker Poncho: Worn over the pack and snapped to form arm holes. Hood drawn over the baseball cap as before. Lap one I was still feeling chilled but not cold and dry except for my hands and forearms which were wet. Lap three I was feeling warmed up but not sweating yet my shirt continued to be dry. By lap 5 I was sweating lightly but not feeling hot and no venting adjustments were neccesary. I still was totally dry except for my forearms and though my feet and lower legs were exposed they were definitely less wet than with the jacket test. Lap eight I was feeling about the same as lap five and a check revealed that my shirt was damp but not soaked and there was no noticeable moisture inside the poncho. I returned to the ranchhouse and stood ,as before, under the gutter spout for ten minutes. I found that I got quite a bit colder but not one bit wetter than when I left lap 8. I noticed steam coming from the sides of the poncho. I removed the poncho and found no moisture inside and the pack was only damp where my back had waist(butt) had touched it. My clothes were damp feeling but by no means wet. After shaking the poncho weighed 13 oz wet.

Shedrain Umbrella: I began by hooking the umbrella over the top of the pack and putting the handle under my sternum strap looping the handles cord around the shoulder strap and back over the handle. This held the umbrella in place for the entire test without adjustment(except for two gusts of wind where I had to steady it with a quick grasp!). Lap 1 I was chilled. Lap 3 I began to warm up but was no where near sweating. My shirt and shorts were still dry as well as the top of the pack. The extra visibility and lack of swooshing noises greatly improved the hiking experience and was surprisingly liberating. Warmed up by lap 5 and shirt and pack top were still dry though the lower part of my shorts were beginning to get soaked and my legs were soaked.. ditto footwear. Lap 8 I noticed I never broke a sweat and there was very little moisture even between the shoulder and pack though my shorts were soaked as well as the lower and back portions of the pack. I returned to the gutterspout and after standing for about thirty seconds I was clear I had learned enough from that test! (Hint: Standing under spout with ultralight umbrella=dumb.) :) After shaking the umbrella it still weighed 10 oz.
It is funny that I began my hiking "career" wearing a poncho in a snowstorm. I remember envying those that had jackets on that hike. Yet now after having used jackets exclusively for 20 years I am beginning to question if I might have missed an important trade-off: ventilation.
Obviously if the jacket affords the greatest warmth but at the expense of ventilation(no matter how many pit zips they put on it) and it wets out and weighs a ton and give no protection to the pack.
The poncho breathes great but is pretty miserable at trapping body heat but stays lighter when wet. And it protects the pack AND me( Two uses in one item!) The umbrella obviously traps no heat but has the magical advantage of making for a much improved rain experience with unobstructed views and forest sounds.. if only in calm winds but only partially protects the pack.
I am not trying to say one is better than the other but I just thought by revisiting the options and field testing them I would remind myself of some forgotten advantages and share them with y'all.
Cheers, Hetchy
PS. now I am going to have to go down to the barn and explain to the horse girls what the #@!# I was up to, 'cause I got some pretty strange looks from the covered arena during the "spout" test. :)

Addenum: I just got your reply Rlown and that is basically where I am at after this test. I am considering the poncho and the fleece I already carry for cold conditions. I am also considering a superlight windbreaker I have.. a sierra designs model that weighs 6 ounces. The total weight for poncho and windbreaker would then be 17 ounces. 3 ounces over the Precip jacket but with the poncho being lighter when wet and the windbreaker only getting wet from the sleeves down.. I am thinking the net gain in versatility and the obvious pack protection this might be the way to go. I guess I should have considered the weight difference of the wet pack after the jacket test.. Hmmm it never ends! :)
Last edited by Hetchy on Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby rlown » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:33 pm

the Poncho sounds like the killer option with a fleece jacket underneath. Not sure that umbrella thing will do well with an afternoon windstorm at altitude.

Thanks for the test info!

Russ
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby oldranger » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:02 pm

Hetchy
Thanks for confirming, systematically, the assumption I have made for a long time. The poncho, though considerably less sexy and more awkward than a gortex jacket has considerable benefits--not the least as you pointed out is breathability but also flexibility-covers the pack and useable as a cooking shelter. I am convinced that when backpacking in the rain wearing a poncho with shorts is the way to go and to keep long pants dry until you get into camp. If it is below freezing I will wear my long pants and, if it is snowing, a light, breathable nylon shell (mine weighs 5 oz) over my usual light longsleeve hiking shirt. About the only time I would wear more is if the temperature is in the low 20s. Of course as soon as I stop moving I have to add layers quickly. Sometimes when it is clear and cold I will wear my wool sweater over my shirt instead of the shell. I'm a little warmer and the breathability increases. I generally try to avoid hiking at a rate that I generate sweat faster than it can evaporate. To me it doesn't matter where the moisture comes from if you get wet and cold you will at best be uncomfortable and at worst be at risk of hypothermia.
By the way during my days as a horseback ranger I wore a poncho in the rain. I could get away with it because my stock were bombproof and a flapping poncho wouldn't phase them. (I later made the mistake of opening a map on the back of a horse I didn't know and quickly learned why I never tried saddle bronc riding!) What I liked best is I could keep my hands underneath the poncho as I rode and my hands stayed dry and toasty while real wranglers in their cool slickers always had cold hands when riding in the rain. At any rate gortex pants and jackets/parkas have a place in my outdoor gear but not when I am backpacking in the sierra. Just my experience and personal preference gathered over ah, I hate to say it about 50 years of backpacking (first trip in 58 or 59).

But what is important is what works for you!

mike
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby maverick » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:24 pm

I use the silponcho/tarp combo for years.
IMO this is the lightest combo.
Things to keep in mind is that a poncho is not the very best option for off-trail in heavy
bush(snag, tear) and you need gore pants, otherwise you'll get wet from the bushes.
Also extremely windy condition are not great for a poncho since you'll have to tighten
the waist cord, and that really cuts down on breathability.
All of the above are just annoyances compared to the benefits so I have learned to
deal with them.
If using as your shelter you'll have to stop before the storm hits since its your only
protection from the rain or learn how to set up from the inside without getting wet,
which does take some practice but can be done (since you like experimenting try
doing that on your next outing in the rain).
I have a 5 oz HH windbreaker that I use, which also serves as my skeeter protection
during the spring-summer.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby fishmonger » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:15 am

my experience with ponchos is rather bad beyond anything than a short shower. Once it really rains, water works its way under the poncho, arms get wet if you use hiking poles, and legs are definitely getting drenched.

Most Ponchos aren't 100% waterproof anyway and those that are weigh too much. I've dropped my poncho in favor of a proper backpack waterproof cover and goretex pants and jacket, which also double up as thermal layers.

The best rain protection is to set up your tent when it starts getting ugly and wait it out inside, but not always an option.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby kbarb » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:40 pm

Thanks Hetchy for all the work, slogging around the forest and making the goofy show for the horse gals.
Yes, so I was just trying to figure out my new rain gear setup, whether to stick with a poncho, or go with a cagoule actually.
But this convinced me to stick with the poncho.

I did notice that "Outdoor Products Packframe Poncho" carried by REI is only water resistant. A number of users complained about that - that it wouldn't really keep you dry in a real downpour.

So now I'm looking over at Campmor which has their own line of waterproof ponchos.

One thing I was considering up until now is a cagoule - sort of like a long version of the Marmot Precip Jacket - also carried by Campmor. But having read your post I think you'd probably perspire even more with the extra coverage. It might be good for just nature walk type jaunts though.
I wish it would work - when I picked up my poncho in my hands it really seemed pretty heavy and I've been on a mission to lighten things up.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby BrianF » Mon Jul 20, 2009 4:00 pm

I just had an experience with Marmot Precip that verifies Hetchy"s findings. A real world test; hiking in a downpour for two hours with a daypack wearing a Marmot Precip anorak. Precip not only breathes, it sucks! Within 15 minutes my shoulders were getting wet, then the sleeves, then the torso, by the time I got to the truck I could wring water from my shirt - total failure and not just through the seams. I am going back to my heavier gore-tex jacket.
Kbarb- I have a campmor cagoule and found it to be a versatile jacket, I just wish it was breathable. You can snap the bottom half up into the armpits to make it anorak length, and it makes a decent bivy sack if your climb goes a bit long.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby fishmonger » Fri Aug 07, 2009 7:29 am

another Marmot Precip experience - Forester Pass July 17 this summer: Rain started at the pass, and followed us all the way to Wallace Creek for a few hours. It was raining medium to hard at times, and it was pretty warm. We hiked in jackets and Gore tex pants, with rain covers on our packs. I eventually had to open all the vent zippers on the Precip and push up my sleeves, while my kids in their REI Gore tex were pretty cold and kept everything fully zipped. When we finally got out of the rain, we were totally dry.
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Re: RainGear Shootout: Jacket/Poncho/Umbrella

Postby oldranger » Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:38 am

One of the things I have learned over the years is that, in terms of warmth everyone is different. A couple of years ago when bping with #1 (female 35) and # 2(female 25) we were hiking in a thunderstorm. Immediately # 1 got cold and added a gortex jacket under poncho. #2 was fine with just a poncho for a couple of hours when all of sudden with no prior complaint or indication she exhibited symptoms of early stages of hypothermia. The old man (with greater body mass) wearing usual shorts and long sleeve shirt (same as #2) with poncho was fine the entire time. So not only did each of us respond differently but I partly failed in my role as trip leader by not keeping a closer watch on my daughters. It turned out ok because as soon as I noticed the problem we made camp set up a tent and got # 2 into sleeping bag where she still had enough energy to create some heat and warm up. A little food sealed the deal.

At any rate what this thread proves is that there is not a single best way to deal with cold and wet.

Mike
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